A Doll's House Study Guide

A Doll's House Study Guide

Original title:
Et dukkehjem

There exist play writers that represent the best personification of theatre. Henrik Ibsen is one of them. In his 1879 play “A Doll’s House”, he managed to combine mastery of realism, the suspense of events, depth of colorful characters and beauty of words.

There are a lot of words said about the lack of opportunities smart and talented women had in the 19th century. “A Doll’s House” is a great example of a strict distribution of roles in the society. It’s about fitting into the circumstances and tolerating what’s supposed to be “normal”.

The play opens with Nora Helmer doing the last preparations for Christmas. Her husband, Torvald, isn’t happy about the amount of money his wife has spent on presents. Through family conversations we find out about the family’s financial standing and everyday life.

Most of the events happen in the same living room and most of the dialogues are devoted to very down-to-Earth topics. The women of the book generally take care of their mothers, brothers, children, and husbands. Sometimes they work, but when the family’s well-being improves, it is no longer needed.

Imagine what it feels like finding yourself in a complete dependence on the people around you. Image working secretly and saving for years to repay the debt that you weren’t even allowed to acquire in the first place. Now imagine that you also have a secret behind your shoulders that forces you to use the influence to return the favor. Maybe the world would be a much better place if all people had equal rights and opportunities, without having to go behind each other’s backs.

You might not think highly of Norwegian literary heritage, but you absolutely must discover “A Doll House”. It is not only the world’s most performed play in certain years, but it’s also a social miniature of what happens when a woman is too smart for the society around her.

New Essays

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