Friday, August 6, 2010

Austin’s 16th Birthday on the top of Mt. St. Helens

Life is truly an adventure! Especially with four teenage boys in tow going up and then down a mountain!

Going up the mountain was great! The elevation can be a killer though and you have to go slowly. The biggest problem was the last 300 yards with snow up to your thighs. You want to stop but the top is right there so you make sure everyone is fine and you just put one foot in front of the other.

At about 100 yards from the top my son, Austin, who we'll call Popsicle Boy had to stop because of his feet. I warmed them up by placing them on my stomach. He changed his socks and up we went making sure the other boys were still following and kept in sight at all times (no cliffs anywhere just lots of snow).

Popsicle Boy was not going to stop until he reached the top so we did it together and then rooted on the others as they finished the worst part of the climb.

Unfortunately, upon reaching the top you realize that now you have to go down. . . in the snow. . . and it's already 5:38pm. That gives you 3 hours to get past the ledge and only about 1 hour to go 2.1 miles through the bivouac. Can you do it? Well, you have to now!!!

So, the quickest way down is the way everyone else does it. You sit down and slide. It may be a mountain but the slope is not vertical and it is actually quite enjoyable until your rear end starts stinging so bad that you want to scream.

Before we slid I made sure everyone knew where we were headed so that no one went the wrong way. "Follow the poles," I said. "Meet at the first crop of rocks and we'll warm our feet." Then you just have to go and hope they obey you.

Now here's the not so fun part. Three of us got to the rocks after sliding down the 300 yards and waited. . . and waited. . . and waited. Just when I was starting to put my shoes back on to see why they weren't sliding down. Here the remaining two came. The Popsicle Boy was in great pain due to the sliding. Like I said, "It hurts!"

We all grabbed him, pulled him on the rocks, pulled off his shoes and socks, and I instructed everyone on how to get Popsicle Boy "Unpopsicled".

The time is now almost 7pm and I am started to look about me for possible helicopter landing spots. Nothing. . . my option. . . get them to the bivouac and we can make it to the ranger station just inside the trees.

I know we have 90 minutes. I set the pace and we get down to the 5th rock crop and miracle of miracles. . . someone has left a pair of very nice REI socks that are mostly dry and warmed by the sun. We swap Popsicle Boy's socks for these and like the lame man, he is cured.

We hit some rather steep slopes and yes. . . against my warning of "Don't go that way unless you can stop." They did go down one of the wildest snowslides you'll ever experience but we got to the woods before the sun went down!!!

The whole time I'm thinking what a stupid idea this was and how glad I am that this is one of the longest days of the year and . . . Oh! Look! A full moon!!! Yeah!!!

Yes, it became dark while we were in the woods buts thanks to the moon it wasn't pitch black and we made it back to the truck only 30 minutes after sunset.

I don't think I want to do that again. At least not THAT WAY!

I am a Crazy Woman! But we all survived and maybe this will remind those crazy teenagers that they are NOT invincible when it comes to making future decisions.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Feminine Side

“Womankind is imprudent and soft or flexible। Imprudent because she cannot consider with wisdom and reason the things she hears and sees, and soft she is because she is easily bored॥” (John Chrysostrom, 347-407 AD)

Ibsen wrote of realism and in doing so brought to the attention of his audience the many dilemmas found in modern society. He wrote of the mind’s tumultuous battles and bared the ugliness that society sought so much to hide. The feminism portrayed in his plays was just one of those battles – a battle of the inequalities between men and women in society along with the confines and constraints afflicted upon women at that day and age.
Susan Torrey Barstow stated in her article "Hedda is all of us: Late-Victorian Women at the Matinee, “the contemporary, middle-class heroines of Ibsen and his followers seemed to live not in a fantasy realm, but in the spectators' own world. Ibsen's heroines do not face starvation, shipwreck, or attack by wild animals; instead, they struggle against the thralls of domesticity and the confines of traditional femininity. Their trials are the ordinary, familiar trials of pregnancy, childbirth, the double standard, sexual frustration, and, perhaps above all, boredom. When strong men appear, they tend to threaten the Ibsen heroine rather than offering her rescue and security.”
Hedda from Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, perceives herself to be a victim. Her choices appear to stem from desperation not unlike an animal backed into a corner. This is evident in her agreeing to marry not because she is in love but because she was approaching the age of thirty. "I had really danced until I was tired, my dear Judge. My time was over..." (Ibsen 202). Women in the 1800s, like Hedda, having only been trained in the domestic arts and told always that they were only suited to marriage and birthing children were thus forced to marry or be a burden upon their families in the 1800s. The societal expectancy that a woman be married by a certain age forced Hedda to choose before she was ready, her contempt being evident in almost every conversation with her husband, “Love? No, that is a joke.” (Ibsen 120)
Nora (from A Doll’s House) is quite the opposite of Hedda. She isn’t anything other than what people tell her to be and can be perceived by others as the victim but not acting the victim’s part. She realizes only later that she has chosen to let others guide her and states, “What I mean is: I passed out of Daddy's hands into yours. You arranged everything to your tastes, and I acquire the same tastes. Or I pretended to... I don't really know... I think it was a bit of both, sometimes one thing and sometimes the other. When I look back, it seems to me I have been living here like a beggar, hand to mouth. I lived by doing tricks for you, Torvald. But that's the way you wanted it. You and Daddy did me a great wrong. It's your fault that I've never made anything of my life.” (Ibsen 80) One could argue that Nora is blaming Torvald and her father for not allowing her to make choices. However, she is actually blaming them for shaping her into someone that never accomplished anything. She could actually be something more than what she is, but doesn’t know how because Torvald and her father never asked her what she wanted. She was instead pushed into roles that best suited them (Torvald and her father). This is a presentation of another of Ibsen’s quandaries – should men force women into roles and then blame them for not doing them effectually? Ibsen also asked whether this was men’s fault, did they realize that by taking control and “being the man” that they may have been causing harm without intent?
Nora rebels against these norms. She is courageous in her setting out to find herself, whereas Hedda is cowardly in her wishing to do something but lacking the courage to do it even to the point of taking the easy way out with suicide. Ejlert states, “Yes Hedda, you are a coward at heart,” while praising Mrs. Elvsted, ”And then the courage in action that she has.” (Ibsen 126; 131)
Hedda lashes out at those around her and seeks to control them because she feels she has lost all control with what she sees as a forced marriage and now with her pregnancy which she refuses to acknowledge or talk about. She is jealous of Mrs. Elvsted for her ability to leave her husband and seeks to destroy Mrs. Elvsted’s happiness by taking away ‘her child’ – the burning of the manuscript Ejlert Lovberg created with Mrs. Elvsted’s help. Ibsen very cleverly foreshadows this event by having Hedda state, “Well! Now we have killed two birds with one stone,” in Act I. (Ibsen 44) The diabolical act of goading Ejlert to go out and commit some lechery and her tormenting of Mrs. Elvsted allows Hedda to feel some control. “Yes, there it is. I wish for once in my life to have power over the fate of a human being.” (Ibsen 143) Ibsen helps us understand that Hedda forced into an egregious expectation of who she should be lead her to angrily strike out at those around her and then wondering ‘who is to blame?’ Is it the environment and social climate that makes Hedda who she is or does she truly have a choice?
Nora and Hedda are two extreme heroines shaped by Ibsen. There is another less celebrated heroine from Ibsen’s Lady from the Sea, Ellida. Ellida being left by her lover who was forced to flee but swears he will return, finds herself facing poverty when he fails to come back and springs at the first opportunity of marriage given. However, when her first love returns from the sea she must choose between the life she has built with a man she didn’t truly love and the love of her life. Society dictates that she must fulfill her duty to her husband and his children. In this Ibsen puts forth ‘is it right to remain with a man you do not love or return to the man you love?’ Ellida truly teaches the observer that in order to make a choice she needs the support of those around her to ‘allow’ her to choose. “I must make the choice of my own free will.” (Ibsen 101) While her annoyingly cloying husband, Wangel, demands, “Ellida, you have no choice.” (Ibsen 101) Through Ellida’s persistence she is finally given this freedom, “There is no single thing here to withhold me. Nothing in the world which holds or binds me. I have taken no root in your house, Wangel. Your children are not mine – their hearts are not mine, I mean, and never have been.” This allows Wangel to relent and declare, “you shall have your liberty again. Henceforth, you shall live your own life.” (Ibsen 102) This allows Ellida to choose of her own free will unlike Nora’s predicament where everyone decides for her. Ellida then chooses to remain with Wangel. This always puts the feminists in an uproar. (R. Zaller, Broadstreet Review, 1 Jan 2006) One must ask, why should Ellida forgo comfort and security with a man that has had a change of heart and children that are now willing to love her for a man that is at odds with the law and can offer her nothing but himself? Ibsen serves up to women ‘choice’ and thereby enables them to choose something that the audience may not find acceptable. Yet this truly depends on the audience. An audience of Wangels would undoubtedly cheer her decision. It is not Ibsen’s way to offer a happy ending though and upon considering which would make the audience happy, he obviously chose the opposite, preferring to leave them squirming in their seats.
Ibsen’s plays are the femme fatale of modern day film. Nora leaving her husband to be her own person, Hedda choosing suicide over enslavement to a lecherous knave, and the freedom granted to Ellida were a strong empowerment to women. They were realistic characters that stepped out of the engrained roles set out by men and said, “No not me.” One can well imagine how a couple’s visit to the theater in 1879 would result in the husband hating the play and the wife privately dreaming of escape. That would explain that even though critics (mostly men) went to great lengths to revile the plays they were outvoted by the public (being mostly women) and were ultimately successful.
Ibsen may not have realized the affect of his plays, feeling them a failure by not enacting great change within his lifetime but he was the planter of the seed from which many feminist roots sprang. The empowerment bestowed by himself and others like him aided women in the conquering of oppression. His work readily applies to our world today, empowering the underdog, giving hope to many that are subject to abuse and servitude to stand up and say, “No, not me.”

Survival of the Fittest

With all of our civilization talk and technologies we are still living in a world where the fittest survive. The weak are enslaved in their partitioned cubicles and crammed in rat holes of urban sprawl. They are kept satisfied by the elitists who comfort them with ideas of how they are saving the world by living on top, beside, and under one another, patronizing the buses, and traveling only when needed. While the elitists live in their sprawling mansions assuring the public that they are making their castles more ‘green,’ driving their gas guzzling SUVs, and flying about on their private jets squawking about private safety.

I went to see Iron Man 2 last night. I realize it is just fiction but I found it near to the truth by how Mr. Stark talked about supporting the liberal agenda (environment, global warming, etc.) and then proceeded to build a particle accelerator in his lab. It just brought to mind the hypocrisy of this liberal elitist agenda. Keep the weak down, enslave them or make sure they die while the elitist survive.

They choose to tax the middle class to the point of impoverishment in order to ensure their survival as elitists. Make the little man dependent on you then you can dictate their actions. You can’t have anyone else becoming rich or it diminishes your power.

I rage against those that seek to take away my personal freedoms. The more laws they make the harder it is to obey them especially when they are in conflict or opposition.

What kind of a world do we live in? Fight for your life or die.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Solution to the World Food Crisis: Bugs and Arachnids?.

Abstract: More than 50,000 people die every day due to malnutrition and around 800,000,000 people go to bed hungry every night. [32] The solution to such overwhelming issues regarding world hunger is complicated and more than one option is necessary. Human entomophagy is a viable option due to availability, the ease of raising in any conditions, and relatively low costs for which there is very little impact if any at all to the environment. The eating of insects and arachnids has been practiced by many cultures for thousands of years. The disgust and revulsion by most people in Europe and Western Civilization must be overcome by education and assimilation of such resources to make this a workable solution. Study of how insects are used, collected and prepared is an important model to study. Community teaching by schools, governments, charity organizations, and awareness groups are necessary in order to support the introduction and availability of edible insects and arachnids. Such influences have been shown to have an effect upon the type of food a community finds edible and is the how an entomophagy diet can be made acceptable. Community, the family unit, and person can be won over in order to answer the many food problems throughout the world and improve the environment simultaneously. When such items are commonplace, farmed, readily available and acceptable to most if not all palates will allow the lessening of the disease and starvation throughout the world.
Entomophagy, the eating of insects, is a widely accepted practice throughout the world and an answer to hunger and malnutrition in areas of disaster and poverty. Many countries have developed self-reliance by ingesting nutrients from an indigenous and prevalent source - arachnids and insects. Universities and scientists have also jumped on the “bug wagon,” promoting entomophagy because of its low impact on the environment and the high nutritional value of insects.[2] Insects are prevalent, nutritious, and farming or trapping of certain insects and arachnids is a manageable and profitable enterprise. The introduction of insects and arachnids into a modern diet is now becoming acceptable in some parts of Western culture due to outside cultural influences. Human entomophagys further promotion will have a significant impact upon reducing the number of deaths due to starvation and disease.
Jumping on the “Bug” Wagon
Scientists have been pushing the value of bug eating for more than 100 years. Vincent M. Holt’s publication of 1885 touted the benefits of bug eating by encouraging man to “try for himself the unknown delicacies around him.” [12]
The nutritional value of insects is equal to or better than meat and soy products. Crickets have 20.6g of protein per 100 grams of cricket while lean ground beef has 24 grams of protein, yet the house cricket has only 1/3 of the fat that the beef does, 4 times the amount of calcium, and more than double the amount of iron. [10] Body builders would do well to know that 100 grams of caterpillars gives you 370 calories but a huge amount of protein, 28g! You would have to eat 5 eggs to get the same amount. [25]
In the Congo caterpillars are a dietary necessity. “Edible insects from forests are an important source of protein, and unlike those from agricultural land, they are free of pesticides," said Paul Vantomme, an FAO forestry expert. [14]
Sapelli caterpillars[15]

Insects also have high levels of vitamins and minerals. Bee larvae contain so much Vitamin A that one must be careful not to overdose (a very painful death). Termites have 35.5mg of iron/100g and are rich in magnesium and copper. Caterpillars contain high levels of B2 and copper also. [11]
Acceptance of Entomophagy
Regardless of the nutritional benefits of insects, the cultures of Europe and the West view entomophagy as something only to be performed on Fear Factor. There are three factors that determine what and how a person eats. First, eating habits are established early within the familial structure. Second, the ‘norms’ of society and community set an acceptable “food code.” For example, several taboos surround eating crickets for members of the Yoruba tribes who do not generally eat crickets because many worship Ogun, the iron god, and he forbids animals that have no blood. While others believe that eating crickets is childish. Sydney Mintz states in his book, Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom: Excursions into Eating, Culture and the Past, that “for each individual, eating is a basis for linking the world of things to the world of ideas through one’s acts—and thus also a basis for relating oneself to the rest of the world.” [22] Third, the choice of what to eat ultimately lies with the person based upon personal preference. “Attempts to change our eating habits may disrupt power structures, violate socio-cultural identity or morality, and require significant shifts in all of these. There is evidence that our attitude toward consuming insects fits within this framework.” [38] The irrational repulsion for insects is a result of culture and has no scientific basis[11]. As noted earlier in this paper, most insects have a nice pleasant taste once cooked and should not be disdained just because they are insects. [20]
The most beneficial animals for human consumption and for the environment are edible insects and arachnids. The Efficiency of Conversion of Ingested Food (ECI) rating of animals is determined by how much weight the animal gains from 100 pounds of its intake (feed). The worst on the scale is sheep and beef which for every 100 pounds of feed only produce 5.3 and 10 pounds of meat respectively. The impact on the environment has been taking its toll for hundreds of years.[10] Farmers now are up to their necks in manure since they can’t find enough ways to get rid of it. There is an industry for the dung beetle created just for this but it cannot possibly fill the void and the neighbors, quite literally, are beginning to complain. Lawsuits for “manure nuisance” have become a normal part of life for livestock farmers.[19] The farming of insects is much more efficient with the ECI for silkworm caterpillars at 19 to 31 and the ECI for pale western cutworms is even more significant at 37. [10]
More than just the food intake of livestock, the amount of water used by livestock has a huge impact on the stability of the region. For just 1/3 pound of beef production it takes 869 gallons of water.[9] That’s about one hamburger!
In 2006 the United Nations report said the livestock sector was “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” The report found that eighteen percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions are from livestock production and this is expected to double every five years.[18][23]
To ease the human impact on the environment and meet the dietary needs necessary for survival, the repugnance for entomophagy needs to be overcome. This task seems insurmountable but not impossible. Small children have been known to stick anything in their mouths including sticks, spiders, and old gum but by the time they reach the age around seven they have instilled in them the cultural “food code” telling them what is food and what is not.[38] The answer then is “food modeling” at an early enough age. This will be a long process since parents and the culture will need to be slowly won over to insect eating in order to train the younger generation that this is an acceptable food source.
There are many schools, communities, zoos, and children’s museums that annually sponsor bug festivals celebrating the eating of arthropods throughout the United States. The Bug Bowl at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana has over 10,000 visitors attend. The favorite of most who attend is the insect petting zoo and the cricket-spitting contest. Other activities include a cockroach race and sampling of various insect culinary delights.[6]
Taste of the Wild Side in New Orleans, Louisiana during spring every year showcases worldwide bug cuisine. Their emphasis is on the normality of eating insects every day. They have also been experimenting with eating the local pest Coptotermes formosanus, the subterranean termite. [6]
To incorporate bug eating into everyday life the company Sunrise Land Shrimp was started up in 2005 by David Gracer. The company’s primary focus is entomophagy education. Gracer is a one man show that visits schools and communities encouraging the practice of bug eating. “Eat a bug, save the planet.” Gracer’s very entertaining interview on Colbert Nation can be viewed on-line. [9]
The FoodFactory created by Bart Hogebrink is designed to combat world hunger. The company industrially rears insects for food. This project does away with the harvesting in the wild thereby reducing this labor intensive way of gathering and lessening the chances of species extinction or endangerment. This is also the answer to seasonal issues of unavailability. This is a cheap, controllable opportunity for even the poorest community to produce enough food to survive. Hogebrink’s project teaches, employs, and over time establishes a sustainable factory that can be turned over to the community or local entrepreneurs for continuation. [13]
There are more and more countries that are turning, and in some cases returning to entomophagy, as a vital protein source[39]. The high prices of rice and the unavailability of many resources have the people of these countries turning to their own resources for an answer, while others use entomophagy as their primary source of protein.
The natives of Australia, the aborigines, have been capturing and eating insects for thousands of years. The necessity of entomophagy in Australia is due to its desert climate which accounts for more than two-thirds of the continent with more than 3,000 hours of sunshine during the year[1]. Alice Springs is one of the driest areas in Australia and home to a majority of the aborigines of the country. They carry on the traditions of their ancestors by digging up and finding insects for consumption. Inside the root of the Witchetty bush is found the delicious Witchetty grub, larvae of the Cossid moth (LEPIDOPTERA: Cossidae: Endoxyla leucomochla) called “witjuti.” It can be tossed into the hot coals of a fire until toasted, wiped off and then eaten, no forks or spoons needed. Author Peter Menzel says it tastes like “nut-flavored scrambled eggs and mild mozzarella, wrapped in phyllo dough pastry[20].”
Another delicacy would be the grubs contained in the galls of the blood wood tree. The galls are created by the female wasp, Cystococcus echiniformis. The wasp irritates the tree by burrowing under the bark where she then lays her eggs. The gall is broken open and the grubs eaten raw tasting of nuts[20].
An insect that is highly favored by the aborigines is one of the sweetest, the honeypot ants, Melophorus bagoti and the black honeypot ants, Camponotus inflatus (HYMENOPTERA: Formicidae)[11]. Found in nests about two feet under the ground, the swollen “replete” ants can be plucked from the walls of the burrows and their abdomens bitten off for the sweet honey contained within. The repletes are a food storage for their hive, keeping the sweet nectar within themselves to be regurgitated when needed by the colony[20].
In south-eastern Australia, the bogong moth is so numerous during summer it could not be ignored as a food source by native Australians. Records indicate that millions of the adult moth Agrotis infusa, were collected throughout the caverns and cave systems of the mountains for the yearly feast dating back to 1000 CE until the 1890s. The moths breed in the Great Dividing Range migrating later in the summer to the cooler temperate areas of south-eastern Australia near Mount Bogong. During their migration the moths congregate and feed on flowering gums in order to maintain the energy needed for their journey to the cave systems on the coast. Once they reach the cave systems of the coast and enter diapause they are collected, cooked amid the hot ashes of the fire, and then smashed into “moth meat.” Many who have tried this ‘meat’ refer to it as “tasting of walnuts.” A more modern annual celebration festival for the arrival of the bogong moth is held at the Mungabareena Reserve in Albury. This festival, called the Ngan Girra Festival, is held on the last Saturday of November, featuring competitions of spear and boomerang throwing, aborigine performers and of course the sampling of the moth. But don’t eat too many they have trace amounts of arsenic in them[1][8].

Moths congregate and feast on a flowering gum[37] honeypot ant replete full of honey[35]

Japan seems to have its finger on the pulse of the bug market. It is decades farther than the rest of the world in breeding, farming, and exporting this natural protein source. Long standing cultural entomophagy exists throughout Japan. It is hypothesized that the practice of capturing and eating insects began with the people of the mountains due to the scarcity of protein available for consumption thousands of years ago[17]. In Tokyo today you would be able choose from a variety of insect dishes at most restaurants. Such dishes include sangi (fried silk moth pupae), zaza-mushi (caddisfly larvae), hachi-no-ko (boiled wasp larvae of about 500 different species), semi (fried cicada), and inago (fried rice-field grasshoppers) [31].
Sangi is one of the most popular dishes. The silk moths, Bombyx mori, once they pupate will no longer spin silk and are sold as a by product of the silk industry. Because they are farmed they are the most readily available and prevalent of the insect dishes. Like most larvae in Japan they are fried with sugar and soy sauce. [31]
The caddisfly larvae (Glossosoma inops) taste best when caught in December and January. A net is laid in the river and then upstream a number of rocks are overturned by using pickaxes. The larvae are then laboriously hand-picked out of the net and thrown instantly into a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. They are then laid out on newspapers and any debris from the river is cleaned off of them. The larvae can then be either sold or taken home to be stir-fried and eaten with a sprinkling of soy sauce and sugar.[20]
Boiled wasp larvae are a delicacy treasured in Japan at many breakfast tables. The wasp larvae are removed from the nests and cooked the traditional Japanese way of insects (with soy sauce and sugar). Their taste is “slightly sweet with a crumbly texture.” [17]
Boiled wasp larvae[17]

Cicadas are a treasure worth the 17-year wait. This long lived insect spends 17 years in the soil as a larva until finally digging out, finding a nearby tree to climb and breaking free of its skin into the adult form. They are best when captured right after this molt and cooked. The Japanese love them, too bad they can’t convince anyone in Chicago, another area that is plagued with these critters every 17 years. [17]
Grasshoppers (locusts), Oxya japonica, are another plague-like insect that are collected by the ton in Japan. In fact, Tsukahara Delicacy, a 72-year old company sold more than 4 tons last year. The Sichuan XWX City Agricultural Department Co. breeds the grasshoppers which are then sold live, freeze dried, frozen, or canned and exported all over the world. [17][24]

Eating insects in China is not just to ward off starvation during emergency situations but part of a normal healthy diet when they become available during the year. The use of insects in medicines and wines is purported to cure anything from digestion to tumors. Guangzhou market is crawling with almost every edible insect and arachnid available, the aisles are filled with boxes of beetles, fried spiders, scorpions on sticks, water bugs in barrels, and cartons of dried bumblebees. [20]
In southern China many people ‘farm’ scorpions in their backrooms or even their bedrooms to be sold at the market for consumption. Scorpions are mostly deep fried and served on crispy noodles or used in scorpion soup. The scorpions are whole except for the stinger on the tail which is snipped off with scissors, the venom sacs are not removed but cooking breaks down the toxins. They are reported to have a “woody” or “barbequed bug” taste[20] [36]. Unfortunately, not all scorpions are farmed and some scorpions such as the Mesobuthus martensi are now endangered due to collection and the use of pesticides. [20]
Chinese Golden Scorpion[21]

The medicinal properties of caterpillar fungus, ant wine, and Chongcha tea makes them popular and very expensive (about $500 a lb. for the fungus). The caterpillar fungus called dong chong xia coa that has infested and mummified the caterpillar is used to treat many maladies including tuberculosis and colds. The fungus is used in soups and studies have found antitumor properties in some of the fungi. The ant wine however, made from ants of the genus, Polyrhachis, has been not been well studied but thought to help with rheumatism and to fight against hepatitis B. Those few tests performed on the wine have found that it as effective as ginseng tea in aiding the immune system. This has not deterred the curative declarations by those who pander it though or its popularity, along with the highly demanded Chongcha tea, another medicinal cure said to taste like dirt. It is made from the frass (excrement) of the moths Hydrillodes morose and Aglossa dimidita and used to treat hemorrhoids and diarrhea. [20]
Many insects of Thailand are used for their famous chili sauces so it seems just as natural that they should be on the dinner table as a regular entrée. The Thai people prefer such tasty treats as maeng man (giant winged ants), dung beetles, water bugs, rod fai duan “bamboo worms,” termites, June bugs, mole crickets, silk worms, and brown grasshoppers.[4][16]
At night the countryside is lit by the neon glow of neighbor’s black lights. Such lights are used to attract and capture nocturnal insects such as water bugs and June bugs. The bugs fly to the light landing on the sheet of plastic hung beneath it. They are unable to get an adequate hold to the plastic so the bugs slide down into the bucket of water below where they can be gathered in the light of day. [20]
Giant weaver ant eggs are used on toast or salads and also found in chili paste form which can be ordered from The giant ants can be farmed for their eggs but it is a lengthy process and usually done on a large scale. [30]
Dung beetles (adults) are captured during the monsoon season in the Northeast of Thailand. Their taste is better at this time of year and can be preserved by dehydration and a lot of seasoning. Since dung beetles eat dung all the time their taste leaves much to be desired. [30]
Giant water bugs, Lethocerus indica, are eaten for their large muscles. They are deep fried but be warned, eating the entire bug can leave a rancid taste in the mouth that is hard to get rid of. The best way to eat it is like one would eat a crab, avoid the guts and eat only the meat, what little there is of it. [20] [28]
Giant Waterbugs[28]

The bamboo worms are actually moth larvae (Myelobia smerintha) that are found in the stems of bamboo. Once deep fried, they resemble dark cheese puffs. They are a favorite snack because of their light sweet taste. The worms are raised on farms and are fried and then seasoned and packaged for sale[30].
Chapulines, agave worms, stink bugs, mealworms, and leaf-footed bugs are an integral part of Mexican culinary culture. These important insects contribute to industry and festivals that have been in place for hundreds of years. [29][32][33]
The red agave worms, also called maguey worms, are found on the maguey cacti used for the making of mezcal, a darker rendition of tequila. The worms are used in the mezcal (the worm in your tequila) but also can be sold to other mezcal makers or in the market as a food commodity. They are another source of income to the farmer along with being part of his dinner. Agave worms are fried and served with refried beans on corn tortillas with cheese and sour cream, and guacamole. They are best when fresh so are usually sold live. [20]
Chapulines, grasshoppers, in Mexico are available seasonally in almost every field, no farm is needed. It usually helps to have more than one pair of hands though, one to chase the grasshoppers to the bucket and the other pair shoving them in it. Grasshopper tacos are a regular menu item all the way up into Texas. All agree that the smaller the grasshopper the better tasting since they don’t seem to get better with age. Early instars are always best as grasshoppers take on a rancid taste when they become adults. [5][32] [34]
Jumil Day is the celebration of the stink bug, including such species as Euchistus taxcoensis and Atizies taxcoensis and Edessa Mexicana. They are served to distinguished guests, a tradition dating back to the Aztecs[29]. It is celebrated southwest of Mexico City on a mountaintop. The stink bugs also called the Mount Bug are eaten raw, putting up a fight even after they are crushed between the teeth by leaving their repugnant taste in the mouth. Stink bugs are also used for taco sauces and taco filling. [20]
Tenbrio molitar, yellow mealworms are the easiest of the insects to raise because they breed quickly. Mexicans sell bagfuls of these easily farmed insects live and squirming to be taken home and prepared in a variety of dishes. Mealworm spaghetti, although not quite authentic Mexican faire, is a favorite. [27]
Another in demand dish, especially for the younger crowd, is a sweet tasting leaf-footed bug pizza. The bugs can be easily caught due to their slow metabolism but are good fliers so a net is usually needed. They are considered to be a pest and are monitored in many agricultural communities. [20][27]
Leaf-footed Pizza[20]

When it came to survival of the people of northeast Indonesia they used bugs in their everyday cooking. In more modern times these people were able to move to the larger cities and brought their “bug-eating” habits with them[4]. Sago palm worms, stink bugs, bee larvae, beetles, and spiders are part of the everyday diet now throughout Indonesia[20].
The sago worms, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (COLEOPTERA: Curculionidae), can be found in dead and rotting sago palms. By tearing through the outer layer of the tree the worms can be found and collected in the mushy pulpy middle of the palm. The worms are a delight to many with their fatty bacon-flavor. [20]
Stink bugs are also very popular. Children will climb small trees to catch them and pop them in their mouths for a mid-day snack. Mulikaks (spiders) that have made their webs below the tree can also be captured using a stick to wind the spider up in their own silk. Those stinkbugs that are not eaten right away are wrapped in leaves and taken back along with the spiders to be roasted beside the fire. [20]
Bee brood (pupae) can be purchased in the market but go fast. The bee larvae are the late instar pupae called the honey bee brood. They are collected along with the honey and wax and sold as curatives for many remedies. Yet, many people buy them just to enjoy their cake-like sweetness[3]. The larvae can be cooked in banana leaves [4] or sections of the brood comb can be made into bakuti. Bakuti is made by squeezing the brood comb while it is in a fabric bag. The liquid that is squeezed from the comb is collected and heated for about 5 minutes. The bakuti can be spread on toast or crackers and is similar to mushy scrambled eggs that tastes of nuts. The brood combs are farmed but there is also a more active foraging in the wild by groups called “Honey Hunters.” [3]
On the other hand, the ulat-kayu known as the Dynastid beetle larvae, Oryctes rhinoceros, are not actively hunted. They are found in the hardwood logs that the Asmattan people split for raft-making. They are a nice “woody” treat that is eaten raw and a just reward for all that hard work. [20]
Dragonflies are a popular treat in Bali but quite hard to catch. In order to catch these fast glittering creatures a slender stick of palmwood is covered with the sap of a jackfruit tree[20]. The stick is flicked out to capture the dragonflies on the sap as they fly over the marshy rice fields[20]. Dragonflies are best if grilled over charcoal or boiled in a soup of coconut milk, peppers, ginger, and garlic. Although some just prefer to fry them with coconut oil. The wings are taken off prior to cooking and the latex (sap of the jackfruit used to catch the insect) on the dragonflies is removed with cooking oil[31]. In restaurants in Bali they serve the delightful entrée called Sky Prawns[10].
Like many countries in Asia the Cambodians love their grasshoppers, cicadas, ant eggs, and other asian insect munchies. What sets them apart is their deep fried tarantulas sold by the roadside in Northern Cambodia. The tarantula is said to aid in virility and eaten only by men. [20] Those who eat them say that they taste like crab, but with hair[10].
South Africa
Last year alone 1600 tons of mopane worms (a.k.a. mopani worms) were harvested and sold. The demand for the larvae of the emperor moth seems insatiable and has led to its decline and even absence throughout Africa. This led to the creation of the Mopane Worm and Mopane Woodland Project, by various organizations from Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, and the UK. Their goals were to “increase economic and nutritional benefits for poor rural people through mopane worm harvesting and production” by the monitoring of the population and establishment of ‘farms’ of mopane worms. Unfortunately, the project was closed in 2005 due to many issues such as drought, viral infections causing high mortality rate in the worms, and the project not being cost effective. [23] However, there are now more successful projects such as the Greater Giyani Natural Resources Development Programme partnering with the University of Pretoria that is training the local people to properly harvest the worm and forming co-ops for exportation of mopane worm products. [14][15]
The worm is considered to be at its finest after the 4th molt prior to adulthood. This occurs during the winter months and can be found burrowed in the ground where it is hand plucked by those wishing to eat and/or sell the precious worm. The worm is quite susceptible to parasites and viral infections with a 40% mortality rate. After harvesting the worm it is squeezed at the tail end and whipped about in order to expel its innards. The worm is then roasted, boiled in salt, or baked in the sun for preservation. It is usually eaten as a dry snack or rehydrated and served with vegetables. [7] A world full of insects means a world of food at our fingertips if we can only learn to appreciate it. A food supply that is sustainable for areas of disaster and areas where hunger is keenly felt can be made available by the World Food Organization, FoodFactory, and other companies including the FAO. Schools such as Purdue University and local organizations such as city zoos are encouraging bug eating and educating the general public through festivals and interactive displays that this is an acceptable and environmentally friendly way to eat. Study of different cultures and their habits of collecting and preparation of various insects and arachnids over thousands of year’s aid in ideas and further enlightenment of Europe and Western cultures to the viability of entomophagy. Scientists study and research into nutritional aspects of entomophagy along with environmental impact statements encourage the support of political groups and governments to promote awareness to the general public. Such practices and support will result in their prevalence. To make entomophagy an acceptable behavior each and every person needs to evaluate their diet and be willing to try this new form of conservation. Federal programs promoting insect farms and introduction of such practices through the school systems and other programs along with tax incentives for such endeavors are the way to get immediate results and overcome repugnance. The time is now to begin training the next generation to appreciate what we have – about 88 million edible insects per person. [10]
Vic Cherikoff’s Witchetty Grub Dip[20]

5 large Witchetty grubs
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pinch salt
1 cup low-fat sour cream
½ cup ricotta cheese

Roast or fry grubs in oil until well-browned. Season lightly with salt, then blend to a smooth paste in a food processor with other ingredients. Serve with flatbread.

Witchetty Soup from Down Under[20]

10 fresh Witchetty grubs
40 mL oil
1 liter stock
2 chicken boullion cubes
½ cup powdered milk, made fairly thick
½ cup onions, chopped
Some flour
Pepper & salt to taste

Sauté grubs in oil. Add stock, chicken cubes, dried onions, pepper & salt.
Cook for 30 min. then add milk. Add a little water to flour to make a paste and pour paste into soup to thicken.


2 lbs. zaza-mushi (aquatic caddis fly larvae)
2 cups sugar
¾ cup soy sauce

Boil zaza-mushi for 10 minutes. Sauté with sugar and soy sauce until lightly browned.

Scorpion Soup[20]

½ c. vegetable oil
30 – 50 live scorpions, washed
125 g fresh pork
1 lg. garlic bulb, crushed
Fresh ginger root, about 3cm, chopped
Salt and pepper
½ litre water
1 handful of Chinese dates
1 handful dried red berries
1 lg. carrot, sliced herbs

Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok. Stir fry scorpions for 20 sec. Add pork and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Fry briefly and add water.
Add remainder of ingredients and simmer for 40 minutes.

Orthopteran Orzo[10]

3 c. vegetable broth 1 T butter
1 c. orzo 1 clove garlic, minced
½ c. grated carrot ½ c. chopped onion
¼ c. finely diced red pepper 1 c. frozen two week old cricket nymphs, thawed
¼ c. finely diced green pepper 2 T chopped parsley

Bring broth to boil and stir in orzo. Boil for 10 min. until orzo is tender, drain then add carrot, red pepper, and green pepper. Mix evenly and set aside.

In separate pan, melt butter, add garlic, onions, and crickets. Sauté until onions clear and crickets browned. Combine with orzo, top with parsley, and serve.


[1] 2009. The Bogong Moth.

[2]Bryant, C. 25 Apr 2009. How Entomophagy Works.

[3]Burgett, M. Nov 1990. Bakuti – A Nepalese Culinary Preparation of Giant Honey Bee Brood. The Food Insects Newsletter, Vol III, No. 3.

[4]Casey, M. 24 Feb 2008. Eating Bugs in Northern Thailand.,4670,ThailandBugRestaurant,00.html

[5]DiStefano, J. 4 Aug 2008. Off the Beaten Path: Grasshopper Tacos at El Globo.

[6]Dunkel, F. Nov 1997. Food Insect Festivals of North America. The Food Insects Newsletter, November 1997. Volume 10, Issue #3.

[7] 4 Apr 2009. Mopani Worms.

[8]Flood, J. 1974. Bogong Moths.

[9]Glausiusz, J. 7 May 2008. Want to Help the Environment? Eat Insects. Discover Magazine.

[10]Gordon, D.G. The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1998.

[11]Gullan. Insects.

[12]Holt, V.M. 1885. Why Not Eat Insects?

[13]Hogebrink, B. Jul 2008. The FoodFactory Project.

[14]Hopenow. 13 Jul 2008. Mopani worms.

[15]Kruse, M. 8 Nov 2004. Edible Insects, important source of proteins in central Africa.

[16]Kuykendahl, P. 2007. Snacking on Deep Fried Bugs in Thailand.

[17]Levenstein, Steve. 2009. Stranger than Sushi: The Buzz on Japanese Insects.

[18]Matthews, C. 29 Nov 2006. Livestock a Major Threat to Environment.

[19]McAfee, E. 7 May 2009. Manure Related Nuisance Lawsuits.

[20]Menzel, P. D’Aluisio, F. Man Eating Bugs. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1998.

[21]Midtgaard, R. 2005. Chinese Golden Scorpion.

[22]Mintz, Sidney W. Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom: Excursions into Eating, Culture and the Past. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996.

[23]Natural Resources International. 30 Aug 2005. Project Record.

[24]Ninth Arab Congress of Plant Protection. 19-23 Nov 2006. Desert Locus.

[25]Ohio State University. 5 May 2009. ohioline.osu.ed

[26]Parker, R. 8 May 2006. Man the Mighty Grubber.

[27]Rick, R. Jan 1995. Extra Cheese and Bugs to Go.

[28]Savatier, T. 2009. Insects – Giant Water Bugs.

[29]Terry, B. 31 Dec 2008. Forget Walk Like an Egyptian – It’s Time to Eat Like an Aztec.

[30]Thailand Unique.

[31]Unger, L. 26 Jan 2009. Bug Food: Edible Insects.

[32]Utah Education Network. 9 Jul 1997. Hunger in the World.

[33]Vaught, T. 2009.

[34]Viva Natura. 2009. Mexican Biodiversity.

[35]Waibel, M. Oct 2007. Evolution of Cooperation in Ants.

[36]Whitaker, M. 3 Jun 2007. Commodity Ecology.

[37]Witney, D. Charles Stuart University. 14 Nov 2002. Bogongs Migrating South.

[38]Wood, J. Looy, H. 2000. My Ant is Coming to Dinner.

[39]WRENMedia Ltd. 2009. Edible insects - a culinary curiosity?

An Inward Turning Eye: an analysis of Peer Gynt

An Inward Turning Eye: an analysis of Peer Gynt

By Shawna L. Millard

“Purgatory was abandoning your vision of honor and knowing you’d done it.” (Dick Francis)
Ibsen’s Peer Gynt is a tale that leads and mocks us simultaneously, pointing toward one meaning but whispering another behind our backs, a theme of double meanings. One needs to view Peer Gynt in a variety of ways in order to find what some seek, an interpretation. There is no question that Ibsen has intent in making some sort of point yet the art of the piece may hide his true intention leaving the reader or viewer to un-puzzle a more personal discernment. Peer Gynt, on the simple side, is the tale of a man who like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz finds “there’s no place like home” (Frank L. Baum). His searching for fame and fortune driven by his fear of commitment or of being tied down results in his running amok around the world taking on different faces as a player in many plays. The culmination being a realization of a life poorly lived and therefore no ‘real self’ but an offering of redemption through the devotion of Solveig resulting in the staying of the Button Moulder’s hand.

His discovery of no ‘real self’ is shown dramatically in his peeling of the onion, he peels off all the layers of what he pretended to be and there is nothing left, no self. He never searches for himself because he has never lost himself through his lack of desire to be more and he cannot forge any depth of character. He takes on many roles until he tires of them like an actor in many plays. Continually putting on another face or act but never being anyone in particular for any length of time; a prophet, a slave trader, a trapper, Self-Hood’s Kaiser. He cannot lose himself because he was never really himself. The Button-Moulder even goes so far as to say, “Yourself you never have been at all.”

Peer is constant in his inconsistency, another double meaning. His inability to act on his dreams of finding an easier way leads him in circles. He stays until it becomes too hard to do so and then escapes over and over again. The Bøyg taught him thus; if things become too hard just go around them. Rules need not be adhered to when it’s easier to disregard them. The Bøyg as interpreted by Georg Brandes is said to be the spirit of compromise but this does not ring true since the Bøyg is a serpent-like troll from Scandinavian folklore of Gudbrandsdal and Telemark. He has no compromise in these legends but is a traveler’s obstacle, ‘not angry,’ ‘conquers all things without it (force),’ and ‘as bad as to battle.’

The Bøyg is just one character Ibsen draws forth from Scandinavian folklore. However, Peer Gynt is not a folktale. Many have struggled with exactly what genre Peer Gynt is. It appears to be an upside down folktale falling outside the definitions of Vladimir Propp’s folktale units and Olrik’s laws by being a folktale of a villain and not a hero and not adhering to the basic principles and structure of folklore. The use of such fancies as trolls and hulders throughout without actually following an Asbjornsen trueness is a clue that Ibsen’s intents tend toward mockery. A ‘red flag” indicating that one must look beyond the simplistic telling of Peer Gynt (that can confuse in its ‘seeming’ randomness) and wonder why and what Henrik Ibsen is ‘poking fun at, is yet again Ibsen’s theme of double meaning, simple but not at the same time.

Dissection of Peer Gynt gives one an unmerciful list of Ibsen’s jests, the first and foremost of these being his own countrymen, the character Peer being a representative of the worst of Norwegian traits. Peer’s ‘art of hedging’ is indicative of Ibsen’s political views of Norway’s shirking of its responsibility in regard to Denmark’s call for aide, “a compromising dread of a decisive course of action” (V Schatia – 1938). Peer is portrayed as a man deep-rooted in his selfishness with an inability to commit. Peer’s idle dreams of the future and celebration of supposedly past family grandeur are indicative of Norway’s romanticism of its past, glorifying in its stark nature and its ruthless Vikings. Peer states that “calculating selfishness is the annihilation of self” in a jab at Norwegians. Preaching of their inability to be more than what they are because they are unwilling to help others followed closely by his comment that “all defects in his countrymen can also be found in him” (meaning Peer).

The next rash of attacks is aimed at the Christian ideals of people, those that say they believe but do not live like they believe, Peer being an excellent example of this. Ibsen portrays Peer as a believer from his praying on the shore to his seeing the Button Moulder, a servant of God, and the Lean One, known to be the devil by his cloven hoof, yet Peer doesn’t believe in obeying God’s laws. Thinking his good deeds like given missionaries passage will rule out any bad deeds such as his selling humans as slaves. Furthermore, Solveig’s father is shown as having all intentions of good by saving Peer’s soul but to do so he would have to transgress God’s law of ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ Believers are painted as hypocritical but in a more deep sense having two meanings. Real intent or presence with a subversive one, an opposition to what reality is, in other words two objects or intentions.

This theme of two of everything is prevalent throughout Peer Gynt. Peer Lives his life as in a day dream, believing his fantasies (riding reindeer) to be truth and not seeing the reality of how others see him. Even his escape is an impractical, romantic, and pointless act resulting in ruin of himself and his mother. When in reality he could very well have married her and had it all, wealth and family and the saving of his soul.

In the beginning of his journey Peer is aware of his lying as in his story to Ase in the beginning and to the people of the village. Yet this becomes more a dream-like state mixing idealism with romanticism upon his manifestation of the trolls.

He is continuously mixing reality with his imaginations only periodically waking to proclaim that ‘deeds is better than that of dreams’ whilst being chased by the entire village bent on his destruction. This short relapse is followed by even more intense dream states of trolls and imaginary kingdoms. Ibsen even goes so far in his double meaning theme as to give the trolls both a pleasant and grotesque appearance along with the food being both delicious and excrement, the drink both mead and urine.

This state of double meaning, of decisiveness and indecisiveness allows Peer to ‘go round about and not straight through’ as he states in relation to his countrymen. Even when confronted with his mother dying he refuses to accept reality and till her dying breath spirits her away into his fantasies not allowing her to be in the right frame of mind for death and blocking her own redemption.

Peer in his later years loses his distinction of what is unreal and what is real. Even those that view the play or read it can no longer distinguish from what is imagined and what is real as they are portrayed by Ibsen as being both. The ‘Other Passenger’ on the ship, The Lean One, the Button Moulder, the Old Man – characters that we know to be fantasies or beings from idealism but are there in reality having conversations with Peer making one doubt not only Peer senses but our own. It is therefore accepted by Peer that they may or may not exist but they are there none-the-less.

In this way the audience emerges from the darkness of the playhouse (or from the depths of the pages) with an inward-turned eye. Ibsen’s employment of entertainment and moralistic education through mockery disembowels the viewer of enjoyment and pomposity leaving only room for deep thought in double meaning. One would be wise to look to Peer Gynt as an example of what we could be but do not have to be. “Man to thyself be true” or “troll to thyself be enough.”

Learning from the Past

As Ibsen’s plays open they are smartly staged with few characters and even fewer sets. His ability to get the most out of every line and arrangement of setting is even more evident by his placing us in the middle of people’s lives yet cleverly introducing characters by conversations of past events. The audience is given glimpses of the past which slowly fill in the missing pieces of characters lives building their personalities and suspense of the story simultaneously. As Helmer says in A Doll’s House, “Ah, I understand; it is recollections of the past that scare you.”
The stories presented by Ibsen originally appear quite simple but he slowly reveals the depth of his characters by delving into their pasts. He inventively does it in passing, interweaving it into the conversations between his creations. The audience feels as an eavesdropper does when listening in on a deep, dark secret.
In A Doll’s House Ibsen seems to be whispering to us that Nora is not quite what she seems. He shows her as a simple, beautiful, happy-at-home housewife without a care in the world. The farce of this is made evident though as Ibsen cunningly presents Mrs. Linde, a forgotten and lost friend from the past. Mrs. Linde’s part allows the audience to understand much of what has happened in Nora’s past life as they “catch up” on what they have been doing all the years since they have parted. It is also Mrs. Linde to whom Nora confides, sharing that the trip to save Torvald’s life was not paid by her father, “I was the one who raised the money.” Slowly as Ibsen fills in the gaps of Nora’s past she is revealed in truth. Piece by piece each character contributes a small bit of the real Nora. Even Nora herself displays how tired she is of pretending and her wish to rebel against her husband by exclaiming, “I’ve the most extraordinary longing to say: ‘Bloody hell!’”. Krogstad helps us understand Nora as a person that has and will go to extremes to get what she wants when he confronts her about the forging of her father’s name, “Mrs. Helmer, that your father signed this document three days after his death.” It is now understood that Nora is a much deeper character and the crux of the entire play, not just a “little squirrel.” Although the symbolism of this reference is not lost on all, a squirrel being an animal that gets as many acorns as she can and hides them away for winter. Nora being the type of person to squirrel away all the money she can in order to satisfy her debt to Krogstad.
It is not only the characters conversations that help the audience to see the past, the settings also lead to a revelation of prior events. In Ghosts we are shown a large table with an array of books, periodicals, and newspapers. This display allows Ibsen to draw upon the hypocrisy of Pastor Manders condemning the material even though he admits to not reading them himself, “You don’t think I waste my time examining publications of that kind, surely?” The publications are presented in such a way that clearly Mrs. Alving has become somewhat of a free thinker. Later it is revealed that Mrs. Alving may in fact have turned to such publications because she no longer had faith in the advice of people such as Pastor Manders, he being the one that told her, ”And your duty was to stand by the man you had chosen, and to whom you were bound by sacred ties, ”even though this husband was “just as debauched when he died as he had been all his life.” Mrs. Alving tells us that she no longer believes in popular opinion as indicated by the type of reading material when she states to Manders, ”you are simply taking it for granted that popular opinion is right.” She had a rude awakening in her past that led to her no longer accepting or taking for granted that which was told her as truth. Manders being the agent of this ice bath of realism.
There are also symbols that reveal past events throughout Ibsen’s plays. In A Doll’s House the tarantella is the dance Nora learned in her past. The dance is from southern Italy and performed by those that were bitten by a tarantula. It was believed that if the dance was not performed by the person bitten that they would die. The dance itself is erratic, changing from minor to major keys, and increases in speed as it goes until the performer reaches their limit and falls exhausted to the floor. It is a dance of unpredictability and uncertainty and is a representation of the true Nora. As Nora practices the dance she is like a bird trying to break free of her cage, exuberant and wild, fighting for freedom. Her enthusiasm and craze alarms Helmer so much that Dr. Rank offers to play the piano and Helmer agrees stating that, “I’ll be better able to tell her what to do.” Again forcing Nora into what he wants her to be by squashing all her spirit and ignoring her bid for recognition of the true Nora.
Another important symbol in A Doll’s House is Krogstad’s first letter. It represents the ever pervasive Ibsen theme of “truth will out.” Nora tries to turn Helmer away from it, she tries to destroy it, and then when all else has failed hopes for her miracle. Unfortunately, the truth is exposed, the truth of her past.
Even the names of Ibsen’s plays are symbols of what he intends. The name of the play isn’t Mrs. Alving Builds an Orphange but Ghosts, symbolizing how past events and persons continually haunt the living. The title of A Doll’s House indicates that all players within are pretending to be something they aren’t but could easily have been called something simple like Nora. Gradually, Ibsen in his later plays tends toward the abstract when it comes to his titles.
Ibsen is calculating in is his ability to build suspense and drama through the skillful stacking of the past through his use of symbolism, conversation, and setting. He adds layer upon layer until it absolutely screams with too much personality and secrecy leading to a resolution of any kind in order to satisfy. Such revelations of the past grab hold of the present and change its appearance. Ibsen’s characters with their past revealed can move forward in the “now” toward resolution of their future.

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