Critical discourse analysis and translation: a comparative study of discourse and ideology in translated versions of Ibsen's A doll's house


  • Anna Tso Wing-bo Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK)
  • Scarlet Lee



Critical discourse analysis, translation alteration, ideology, power struggle


Chinese readers have shown excessive interest in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879) since progressive Chinese intellectuals such as Lu Xun (1881–1936) and Hu Shi (1891–1962) translated and introduced the play to China in the early twentieth century. However, until today, not many have noticed or mentioned issues that could arise from translation. While Chinese scholars vigorously study Ibsen and modern Chinese drama, few care to read the original play (in Dano-Norwegian) or the English translation, let alone comparing them with the Chinese version(s), which most Chinese readers actually read. In view of this, we look into three translations of A Doll’s House – namely Peter Watts’s English version, Pan Jiaxun’s Chinese version, and Cao Kaiyuan’s Taiwanese version. By using the critical discourse analysis (CDA) approach, we discover that the discourse and power struggle of Nora and Torvald in Watts’s and Pan’s versions differ in various interesting ways. In this article, we will use the conversation between Nora and Torvald in the last scene of Act III to demonstrate how omissions, additions and alterations brought about by translations can change the discourse and create different ideological effects on gender relations and identities (192 words).

Author Biographies

Anna Tso Wing-bo, Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK)

Anna Tso Wing-bo is a lecturer in English Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at the Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK). She graduated from the University of Hong Kong and obtained her PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham, U.K. Her research interests include language arts, children's fantasy, gender studies and translation studies. She has published in various international refereed journals, including Interlitteraria, The International Journal of Early Childhood, and Libri & Liberi: Journal of Research on Children's Literature and Culture.

Scarlet Lee

Scarlet Lee graduated at The University of Hong Kong with a Master’s degree in English Studies. She has been teaching English in Hong Kong and in Italy for more than ten years. Recently, she has finished writing a book “Learning English through Short Stories” (pending for publication) and a research article on Maxine Hong Kingston’s book “Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace”. Besides teaching and writing, she is also a freelance translator (English, Chinese and Italian).




How to Cite

Wing-bo, Anna Tso, and Scarlet Lee. 2015. “Critical discourse analysis and translation: a comparative study of discourse and ideology in translated versions of Ibsen’s A doll’s house”. Nordlit, no. 34 (February):505–517.