Introduction to Literature

A Doll House Read A Doll House in your Literature textbook (pages 1079“1141). A Doll House, by Henrik Ibsen, is a realistic drama set in nineteenth-century Norway. When you’ve finished reading A Doll House, come back to this study guide to read the following commentary. As you read A Doll House, you must understand the society around it. At the time it was written, women didn’t have the rights they do today. In the United States at that time, a woman couldn’t vote, and her property belonged to her husband. In Norway in 1879, when this play was first performed, these same conditions applied, and societal rules were quite strict. The country was small, and the society to which Torvald and Nora Helmer belong was tightly bound by convention. Appearances, and the appearance of propriety, or of right-doing, were considered of paramount importance. People didn’t have the freedom of expression and of action that we have today in North America. The play has unity of time, place, and action. The scene is always the Helmers’ living room. The action takes place over three days near the Christmas holiday, and the conflict concerns money and a debt Nora has contracted without her husband’s knowledge. This secret is at the heart of the play. At the end of Act 1, Nora has realized that, because she has forged her father’s signature, she has done more than commit an impropriety”she has broken the law, and this single act can ruin her and her husband. Torvald himself tells her, at the end of the act, that a person such as Krogstad, who has also committed forgery, has poisoned his life and his family. Nora realizes how strict and doctrinaire her husband is, but she can’t make herself believe he would apply such a standard to her. In Act 2, Nora and Mrs. Linde plot together to keep Krogstad from revealing Nora’s secret to her husband. We discover that Mrs. Linde and Krogstad were once sweethearts and that Mrs. Linde wants to resume their former relationship. She’s willing to do this, even though Krogstad lives under the shadow of suspicion because of his past crime. The two of them find a promise of happiness together as the lives of Nora and Lesson 4

Posted in Uncategorized