HENRIK IBSEN ” SA DOLL’S HOUSE & HEDDA GABLER CONTENTSCONTENTSSECTION… … … … … … … … … . SEARCH ON THE AUTHOR AND HIS TIMES… … … … … … … … … … IDOLAUTH A Doll’s HouseTHE PLAYThe Plot… … … … … … … … … … … … … … IDOLPLOTThe Characters… … … … … … … … … … … … IDOLCHAROther ElementsSetting… … … … … … … … … … … … … IDOLSETTThemes… … … … … … … … … … … … … IDOLTHEMStyle… … … … … … … … … … … … … . IDOLSTYLForm and Structure… … … … … … … … … IDOLFORMTHE STORY… … … … … … … … … … … … … … IDOLSTOR A STEP BEYONDTest and Answers… … … … … … … … … … … .
IDOLTESTTerm Paper Ideas and other Topics for Writing… … IDOL TERM Hedda GablerTHE PLAYThe Plot… … … … … … … … … … … … … … IHEDPLOTThe Characters… … … … … … … … … … … … IHEDCHAROther ElementsSetting… … … … … … … … … … … … … IHEDSETTThemes… … … … … … … … … … … … … IHEDTHEMStyle… … … … … … … … … … … … … . IHEDSTYLForm and Structure… … … … … … … … … IHEDFORMTHE STORY… … … … … … … … … … … … … … IHEDSTOR A STEP BEYONDTest and Answers… … … … … … … … … … … .
IHEDTESTTerm Paper Ideas and other Topics for Writing… … IHEDTERM A DOLL’S HOUSE AND HEDDA GABLERThe Critics… … … … … … … … … … … … … IDOL CRIT Advisory Board… … … … … … … … … … … … IDOLADVB Bibliography … … … … … … … … … … … … … IDOL BIBL AUTHORANDHISTIMESTHE AUTHOR AND HIS TIMES (IDOLAUTH) -On a chilly April day in 1864, Henrik Ibsen arrived at the docks in the Norwegian capital of Oslo (then called Christiania).
... did not leave because of female liberation. "A Doll House" is not a feminist text.Even though it ... description of humanity." She believes that "A Doll House" is still a feminist text because people take ... feminist. She admits that Ibsen himself says "A Doll House" is not about womens rights but "the ... apart when they are faced with reality. A Dolls House is set in nineteenth-century Europe. It ...
The young man was a failure. The theater he’d run had closed, and noneof his own plays were successful.
He had a wife and a young son to support, but all his possessions had been auctioned off two years before to pay his debts. He’d applied for a grant from his native country, Norway, but was turned down. Disillusioned by his country and society, Ibsen, together with his wife and son, boarded a ship and left Norway, figuratively slamming the door behind him. Fifteen years later, a similarly disillusioned Nora Helmer would slam the door on stage at the end of A Doll’s House, helping to change the course of modern drama. Ibsen had become disillusioned very early.
In 1836, when he was eight years old, his wealthy parents went bankrupt. They were forced to move from town to a small farm. All of their old friends deserted them, and they lived for years in social disgrace. Although young Henrik appeared quiet and withdrawn, his deep, bitter anger at society would occasionally escape in the scathing caricatures he would draw orin tirades against young playmates.
His sole happiness seemed to come from reading books and putting on puppet plays. Ibsen didn’t like his own family any more than he liked the “proper ” society that shunned them. His domineering father was an alcoholic, while his quiet mother found comfort in religion. This blend of overbearing husband and submissive wife makes repeated appearances in his plays, most notably in Brand, in A Doll’s House, and in Ghosts, After he left his parents’ home at sixteen in 1844, he never went back, even years later when he got word that his mother was dying. Hoping eventually to study medicine, Ibsen became a druggist ” s apprentice in Grim stad, a small Norwegian village. But he still felt like an outsider, a feeling that would dog him all his life and find expression in many of his plays.
(It didn’t help his social standing when he fathered an illegitimate son by a servant girl ten years older than he. Some feel that it was this unwanted child that reappears in many of his plays as a lost or murdered child. In A Doll’s House, the nursemaid gives away her illegitimate child. ) But Ibsen found hewasn’t alone in his contempt for those who controlled society.
... to set the scene. There are times in A Dolls House where Ibsen does not allow the characters to reveal information until ... . Although Isben uses many of the conventional "well-made play" techniques in A Dolls House, he develops his ideas more fully. In ... less formulated and more human. Therefore, in blending "well-made play" techniques with truthfulness, Isben took the first steps in developing ...
He became friends with a boisterous group of young artists who specialized in political satire. By 1848, a spirit of political unrest was sweeping Europe. Rebellions against monarchy flared in many countries. This spirit of revolution was intoxicating for Ibsen and his friends. Royalty and aristocracy seemed on their way out; the people were coming into their own. Two years later, Ibsen moved to Oslo to attend the university but failed to complete the entrance examinations.
He was so caught up in politics and writing, however, that he really didn’t care. Afterall, modern society seemed to be at a crossroads, and the world offered infinite possibilities. But things began to go wrong. The revolutions of 1848 faltered and finally were crushed. Artists and politicians alike lost their idealism. The world of infinite possibilities didn’t really exist.
Years later, Ibsen would use the experiences of this period in his plays. Certain of his characters (like Nora in A Doll’s House andLovborg and Hedda in Hedda Gabler) reflect the possibility of society where people can reach their individual potential. But these are lonely characters who must struggle against society as well as their own human failings. Although he avoided any further active involvement in politics, Ibsen remained a nationalist. For the first time in centuries, Norway had its own government and was trying to escape the political and artistic influence of Denmark and Sweden.
Authors wrote Norwegian sagas, and the Norwegian Theater was opened in Bergen. Young Ibsen became active in Norway’s artistic rebirth. His first plays we refilled with sweeping poetry about Vikings and political heroes. Infact, the fourteen plays Ibsen wrote between 1850 and 1873 are said to make up his Romantic Period. Ibsen quickly forgot about being a doctor. On the merit of two plays, he became the director of the theater at Bergen, with the assignment to write one original play each year.
But things did not go well for him there. Not only were his own plays failures, but he was forced to produce plays he considered mindless and unimportant- suc has drawing room comedies by the contemporary French playwright Augustin Eugene Scribe. Although Ibsen ridiculed Scribe’s plays, he absorbed much about their structure, known as the piece bien faite (well-made play).
... shy, dedicated and determined 26-year old queen was selected Woman of the Year. She was chosen because she was ... that she deserved to receive the title "Woman of the Year." She had practical intelligence since she was ... on October 13, 1940. She then joined the woman's branch army and took training as an ... voice and piano. In the afternoon she would play in the garden, usually with her sister and Miss ...
These were tightly woven melodramas, designed primarily to entertain, to keep theatergoers on the edge of their seats. Such plays usually included a young hero and heroine, bumbling parents, and a dastardly villain. The action hinged on coincidences, misplaced letters, misunderstandings, and some kind of time limit before which everything had to work out.
There is a real art to writing a piece bien faite, because there can be no unnecessary scenes or dialogue; every word and action sets upa later action. Ibsen would use this tight structure in A Doll ” sHouse, but he would add elements that turned an entertainment into modern drama. In 1858, while in Bergen, Ibsen married Susannah Thoresen. Hardly a subservient wife, she helped manage his career, run his house, and screen his guests. All through his life, however, Ibsen continued to have flirtations with pretty young women (including Laura Kieler, who was the model for Nora, and Emilie Bard ach, who may have had some of Hedda Gabler’s traits).
Ibsen left Bergen to become the artistic director of the Norwegian theater in Oslo.
The hardship of these next few years took their toll. The theater went bankrupt in 1862, and Ibsen, destitute, reportedly became involved with moneylenders, who may have provided the model for Krogstad in A Doll’s House. Despairing, Ibsen turned to drink, and, like Ei lert Lov borg in Hedda Gabler, he almost lost his genius to alcohol. Finally, in April 1864, he left Norway with Susannah and their son Sigurd.
Over the next twenty-seven years they lived in Rome, Dresden, and Munich. Curiously, the first play that Ibsen wrote after leaving Norway became his first Norwegian hit. And it was this play, Brand (1865), that finally persuaded the Norwegian government to grant Ibsen a yearly salary to support his writing. Success changed Ibsen’s life. He no longer had to scrape for money, He was ready for his new role. He altered his wardrobe, his appearance, and even his handwriting.
He consciously made himself over into the man he always thought he could be- successful, honored, sought-after. Even though Ibsen had left Norway, he retained strong ties to the country and all but one of his plays are set there. He kept up with literary events and trends in Scandinavia. One of these events prepared him for another major change in his thinking. In 1872 the Danish critic Georg Brandes attacked Scandinavian writers for dealing only with the past. It was time to start discussing modern problems, he said.
... “A Doll’s House.” Nora is a unique character, a kind not usually seen in most plays. She swings her ... her husband’s opinions. She’s aware that Torvald would have no use for a wife who was equal ... characters in Ibsen’s plays. They are similar in some ways, but obviously they are both uniquely diverse. They play many of ...
Ibsen listened and agreed. The time was ripe for a change in world drama. In France, Alexandre Dumas, fils [the son], was dramatizing social ills in plays like La Dame aux Came lias (Camille); in Russia, Anton Chekhov was mourning the death of the aristocracy, and Count Leo Tolstoy was glorifying the peasants. Even though the popular revolutions had been defeated, social change was in the air. An educated middle class was flexing its muscles. Women were beginning to question the submissive behavior they had been taught.
They were now allowed to move in educated circles although seldom permitted anything beyond a rudimentary education. Often little more than decorative servants, women could not vote and had few property rights. They were expected to be passive, no matter what their true personality was. Ibsen sided with women who sought to change their traditional role. He decided to write plays about modern people who would use contemporary, everyday language. Writing in prose instead of poetry, he turned from imaginary, romantic settings to “photographically ” accurate everyday settings.
His first realistic prose play was The Pillars of Society (1877).
It was a success, but some readers feel it was only practice for his next play, A Doll’s House (1879).
It’s hard for us to realize just how revolutionary A Doll’s House was. It took the form and structure of the “well-made play’ but turned it from a piece of fluff into a modern tragedy.
In addition, the ” hero’ isn’t a prince or a king- or even a member of the aristocracy. Instead, it’s a middle-class woman, who decisively rebels against her male-dominated surroundings. A play that questioned a woman’s place in society, and asserted that woman’s self was more important than her role as wife and mother, was unheard of. Government and church officials were outraged. Some people even blamed Ibsen for the rising divorce rate! When some theaters in Germany refused to perform the play the way it was written, Ibsen was forced to write an alternate ending in which theheroine’s rebellion collapses. Despite the harsh criticism of A Doll ” sHouse, the play became the talk of Europe.
... personal contact. Images of women: Nora, as a symbol of woman, is called a number of names by Torvald throughout the play. These include "little ... arguable as to whether her decision to go off with Krogstad is a positive or negative decision. On the one hand ... male moral figure that had been common to plays at the time that Ibsen was writing. Dr. Rank's character usually provided ...
It was soon translated into many languages and performed all over the world. The furor overIbsen’s realistic plays helped him to become an international figure. Some writers like Tolstoy thought Ibsen’s plays too common and talky; but the English author George Bernard Shaw considered Ibsen to be more important than Shakespeare. No matter what individual viewers thought about its merits, in ADoll’s House, Ibsen had developed a new kind of drama, called a’problem play’ because it examines modern social and moral problems. The heroes and heroines of problem plays belonged to the middle or lower class, and the plays dealt with the controversial problems of modern society. This seems commonplace today, as popular entertainment has been dealing with controversial topics for years.
Until Ibsen ” day, however, it just wasn’t done. Many of the most important plays written in our day, like Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, have their roots in the problem play. Ibsen’s Realistic Period (1877 to 1890) earned him a place as theater giant. Not only did he introduce controversial subjects, everyday heroes, and modern language, he resurrected and modernized the “retrospective’ plot, which had been popular with the ancient Greek playwrights.
In a retrospective play, like A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler, the major events have taken place before the curtain goes up. The play concerns the way the characters deal with these past events. Hedda Gabler was another innovative experiment for Ibsen. Instead of presenting a merely social problem, he painted a psychological portrait of a fascinating and self-destructive woman. Hedda Gabler has many striking resemblances to A Doll’s House, even though it appeared eleven years later, in 1890. In both plays, the action takes place in the drawing room.
The characters include husband and, wife, the husband’s friend (who completes a romantic triangle), an old school friend of the wife’s, and this friend ” love interest. Both wives are in a psychological crisis: Nora is not in touch with her aggressive or “male’s ide, while Hedda cannot bear her own femaleness. (It’s interesting to note that Ibsen wrote these plays before Freud expressed his idea that everyone has both male and female components. ) Nora, a member of the middle class, deals constructively with her search for self-knowledge. Her final closing of the door at the end of the play signifies that she is going out into the world, which is full of possibilities. On the other hand, Hedda Gabler, a member of the dying aristocracy, becomes destructive and predatory.
... shows just how controlling he really is. Nora just plays along, keeping secrets from Torvald in order to please him at any expense ... little sex pet. This is what Nora finally realizes at the end of the play when Torvald is only worried about himself and ... what everyone else thinks about him. Nora realizes that she has been Torvald's ...
Her final action is suicide. Despite his success, Ibsen was never satisfied with his work. He felt his major characters had all failed to achieve something important, something dramatic- and he felt the same way about himself. He was in his sixties when he wrote Hedda Gabler and it signaled another change in his life and writing. In 1891, after twenty-seven years of exile, Ibsen moved back this native Norway and into his third phase of plays, called his Symbolist Period. The main characters in these plays aren’t women, but spiritually defeated old men.
Ibsen had a stroke in 1900 from which he never completely recovered. But he remained an opposing force to the end. In 1906, as he was coming out of a coma, the nurse commented to his wife that he seemed alittle better. “On the contrary!’ Ibsen snapped.
He died a few day slater. DOLLSHOUSE|PLOT DOLL’S HOUSETHE PLAY- (The following edition was used in the preparation of this guide: Henrik Ibsen, Four Major Plays, Vol. I, trans. by Rolf Fjeld e, Signet Classic, 1965. ) -THE PLO (IDOL PLOT) -It’s Christmas Eve. Nora Helmer, a beautiful young wife, has been out doing some last-minute shopping.
When she returns, her husband Torvald immediately comes to see what his “little squirrel’ has bought. They playfully act out their roles- Torvald the big, strong husband, Nora the dependent, adoring wife. This is a happy Christmas for the Helmers and their children because Torvald has recently been appointed manager of the bank. Soon they ” ll be well off and won’t have to scrimp. However, Torvald will still control the cash in the house, because he feels that his irresponsible Nora lets money run through her fingers, a trait she ” inherited’ from her father. An old school friend, Kristine Linde, comes to visit Nora.
During the conversation, Kristine reveals that she had married a wealthy man she didn’t love in order to support an invalid mother. Herhusband’s death three years ago left her penniless and she ” s returned to seek work. Nora promises to speak to Torvald about a jobin his bank. Having had such a hard time herself, Kristine is scornful ofNora’s easy married life until Nora describes a secret she has been concealing for many years. Early in her marriage, when Torvald became seriously ill, she secretly borrowed a large sum to finance a year-long stay in a warmer climate.
Since he did not know the extent of his illness, and since, even if he had known, borrowing money would have been against his principles, she pretended the money was from her late father. Since then she has been struggling to repay the debt by economizing from her personal allowance and by secretly working a thome. The women are interrupted by the arrival of Nils Krogstad, a clerk in Torvald’s bank. When Krogstad goes into the study, Dr.
Rank, an old family friend, comes out. Knowing of Krogstad’s reputation as a forger, Rank tells the women that Krogstad is one of those “moral invalids.’ Unknown to any of them, Torvald is firing Krogstad. This leaves a vacancy, and, when Torvald joins them, he agrees to give Kristine the job. Torvald, Dr. Rank, and Kristine then leave together. As Nora is playing happily with her three young children, Krogstadreappears.
It turns out that he is the one who had lent the money to Nora. He also knows that Nora not only forged her father’s signature as cosigner of the loan but dated it several days after his death. Krogstad leaves after threatening to expose Nora unless he gets his job back. Nora pleads with Torvald to reinstate Krogstad, but he refuses.
She is frantic, imagining that once Krogstad reveals the truth, Torvald will himself assume the blame for the forgery and be ruined. The next day Dr. Rank, who is suffering from a fatal illness, comes to visit. He speaks openly of his impending death and tells Nora that he loves her. Nora is upset, not because he loves her, but because he has told her so and ruined the innocent appearance of theirrelationship. The arrival of Krogstad interrupts their conversation, and Nora slips down to the kitchen to see him.
He tells her he has written letter to her husband, which explains the debt and the forgery. The nas he leaves, he drops it into the locked mailbox. In despair because Torvald has the only key to the box, Nora thinks wildly of suicide. When Kristine learns about the forgery, she offers to intercede with Krogstad on Nora’s behalf, because she and Krogstad had once been in love.
Meanwhile, Nora gets Torvald to promise to spend the rest of the evening helping her practice the tarantella- the dance she’s to perform at a masquerade party the next night. Torvald sees a letter inthe mailbox, but true to his promise, he ignores it and concentrates only on Nora’s dance. The next night, while the Helmers are at the party, Krogstad and Kristine meet in the Helmers’ drawing room. They forgive eachother’s past mistakes and are reunited. Krogstad offers to ask for his letter back, unread, from Torvald, but, unexpectedly, Kristine stops him. She has had a change of heart and says he should leave the letter- Nora and Torvald must face the truth.
Torvald drags Nora away from the party the minute she finishes the dance. He is filled with desire for her and is glad when Kristine leaves. Shortly after, Dr. Rank stops by to bid a final farewell. Nora realizes he is returning home to die alone. Overwhelmed by his feelings for Nora, Torvald says he wishes he could save her from something dreadful.
This is her cue. Nora tells him to read his mail. She is certain that now the “miracle’ will happen: Torvald will nobly offer to shoulder the guilt himself. He retires to his study with the mail. Rather than see Torvald ruined, Nora throws on her shawl and starts for the hall, determined to carry out her suicide plan. But instead, her fine illusions about her husband crumble when an outraged Torvald storms out of his study, calling her a criminal and accusing her of poisoning their home and their children.
Since his reputation is at stake, he feels completely in Krogstad’s power and must submit to the blackmail. Still, he insists that they must maintain the appearance of a happy family life. Then a second letter arrives from Krogstad, dropping the charges and returning Nora’s forged note. Torvald is relieved and immediately wants to return Nora to the status of pet and child. But she has seen him as he really is. She realizes that she went straight from herfather’s house to her husband’s and has never become her own person.
She has always subordinated her opinions and her identity to those whose assumed were nobler. Now she sees that both Torvald and her father were weak, and have kept her weaker only to have someone to bully. Nora decides to leave Torvald’s house to discover who she is. She says she’s not fit to raise her children in the state she’s in-she’s been teaching them to be mindless dolls, just as she was. When Torvald asks if she ” ll ever return, she replies that she could only return if the greatest miracle happened and they were truly equals, truly married. Torvald is left clinging to this hope as his wife departs, slamming the door behind her.
DOLLSHOUSE|CHARACTERS THE CHARACTERS (IDOL CHAR) – (Spelling of the characters’ names may vary according to the translation. ) -NORA HELMER Nora is a fascinating character for actresses to play, and for you to watch. She swings between extremes: she is either very happy or suicidally depressed, comfortable or desperate, wise or naive, helpless or purposeful. You can understand this range in Nora, becauseshe wavers between the person she pretends to be and the one she may someday become. At the beginning of the play, Nora is still a child in many ways, listening at doors and guiltily eating forbidden sweets behind herhusband’s back. She has gone straight from her father’s house to herhusband’s, bringing along her nursemaid to underline the fact thatshe’s never grown up.
She’s also never developed a sense of self. She’s always accepted her father’s and her husband’s opinions. Andshe’s aware that Torvald would have no use for a wife who was his equal. But like many children, Nora knows how to manipulate Torvald by pouting or by performing for him. In the end, it is the truth about her marriage that awakens Nora. Although she may suspect that Torvald is a weak, petty man, she clings to the illusion that he’s strong, that he ” ll protect her from theconsequences of her act.
But at the moment of truth, he abandons her completely. She is shocked into reality and sees what a sham theirrelationship has been. She becomes aware that her father and herhusband have seen her as a doll to be played with, a figure without opinion or will of her own- first a doll-child, then a doll-wife. She also realizes that she is treating her children the same way. Her whole life has been based on illusion rather than reality. The believability of the play hinges on your accepting Nora’s sudden self-awareness.
Some readers feel that she has been a child so longs he couldn’t possibly grow up that quickly. Others feel that she is already quite wise without realizing it, and that what happens is credible. There are lines in the play that support both arguments. It’s up to you to read the play and then draw your own conclusions. There is a parallel to the story of Nora in the life of one ofIbsen’s friends, a woman named Laura Kieler. She, too, secretly borrowed money to finance a trip to a warm climate for a seriously ill husband.
When she had difficulty repaying the loan, she forged anote but was discovered and placed in a mental institution. Eventually, she was released and went back to her husband for herchildren’s sake. The story outraged Ibsen, and he fictionalized i tin A Doll’s House, although rewriting the ending. -TORVALD HELMER Probably all of you know someone like Torvald. He’s straight-laced, proper man, and proud of it. At first, he seems genuinely in love with Nora, even if he does tend to nag and preach a bit.
But as the play progresses, you discover more disturbing parts of his character. Like anyone who doubts his own power, Torvald must frequently prove it. He keeps tight control over who comes to his study and whom he speaks to at work, and over everything affecting Nora. He even has the only key to their mailbox.
During the third act, you see his need for dominance increase. His fantasies always have Nora in a submissive role. He is happiest when treating her as a father would a child. This gives an incestuous tinge to their relationship, which Nora comes to realize and abhor at the end of the play. On the other hand, Torvald is not a bad man.
He is the product of his society, one who seems to fit well in the middle-class mold. It’s only when he’s tested that his well-ordered house of cards comes crashing down. Some readers question the believability of Nora’s love for Torvald. How could she have been blind to the obvious faults of this dull, petty man for eight years? He must have qualities that makeNora’s love credible, but at the same time he must become odious enough at the end for her to break all ties and leave immediately upon discovering his true self.
What kind of marriage relationship would put a premium on Torvald’s good qualities? Besides being Nora’s weak and un supportive husband, Torvald represents a “type’ of thought and behavior that contrasts with Nora in several effective ways. He represents middle-class society and its rules, while Nora represents the individual. He stands for theworld of men and “logical male thinking,’ while Nora’s thinking is more intuitive and sensitive. Can you think of other ways that Torvald and Nora are compared? In light of these comparisons, how would you interpret Torvald ” s defeat at the end? Certainly at the play’s start, Torvald appears tobe in command in contrast to Nora’s weakness. But by the end of ActThree their roles have been reversed: he is the weak one, begging for another chance, and Nora has found strength. Does the author mean to suggest that the ideas of male supremacy and middle-class respectability were changing? -DR.
RANK Dr. Rank is an old family friend, whose relationship to theHelmers is deeper than it appears. He always visits with Torvald first, but it is Nora he really comes to see. Both Rank and Nora prefer each other’s company to Torvald’s. Although Nora flirts with Rank and fantasizes about a rich gentleman dying and leaving her everything, she never acknowledges her true feelings- the attraction she feels for older, father-figures. Rank at least is honest in declaring his love for Nora.
The doctor serves several important functions in the play. His physical illness, inherited from his loose-living father, parallels the “moral illness’s hared by Krogstad and Nora. The hereditary nature of Rank’s disease, although it is never identified, suggests the possibility of immorality passing from generation to generation. Rank’s concern with appearing normal despite his illness parallelsTorvald’s concerns with maintaining the appearance of a normal marriage after he discovers Nora’s moral “disease.’ Dr. Rank helps Nora on her journey to self-discovery.
He forces her to face the reality of his death, which prepares her for the death of her marriage. He also forces her to look behind appearances to see the romantic nature of her and Rank’s relationship. Nora refuses to deal with both of these issues in the second act, but by the third act she and Rank are through with masquerades and are both openly preparing to die. At the end, Rank realizes and accepts his approaching death, while Nora realizes and accepts the death of her marriage. -KRISTINE LINDE Mrs. Linde, Nora’s old friend, is the first “voice from the past ” who affects the future.
On the one hand, she is like Nora becauseshe’s gone through what Nora is about to face. Kristine has come out of a marriage that was socially acceptable and emotionally bankrupt. On the other hand, she is different from Nora because, having already been disillusioned, she has now gained a firm grasp on reality. She has hope, but it’s based on knowing and accepting the truth about herself and about Krogstad.
Kristine is the first to seeNora’s marriage for the pretense it is. It is Kristine who decides, for better or worse, that Torvald has to know the whole truth aboutNora’s forgery. Kristine and Krogstad’s compassionate and realistic relationship contrasts with Nora and Torvald’s playacting. While the Helmers ” socially acceptable relationship crumbles because it’s based on deceptions, Nils and Kristine’s relationship is renewed and strengthened because it’s based on truth.
-NILS KROGSTAD Nils Krogstad, a clerk in Helmer’s bank, is called immoral by several other characters in the play, but is he? We usually think of an immoral person as someone who has no regard for right and wrong. But Krogstad is concerned with right and wrong. He’s also concerned about his reputation and its effect on his children. Although he has been a forger, he wants to reform and tries desperately to keep his job and social standing. Once they ” re lost, he decides to play the part of the villain in which society has imprisoned him. His attempt to blackmail Nora sets the play’s action in motion.
Through his blackmail letter he forces Nora into self-knowledge. He also affects some of the other characters in ways that reveal not only the truth about him, but the truth about them as well. For example, you discover much of Torvald’s pettiness from the way he reacts to Krogstad as an inferior. Despite his superficial role as villain, Krogstad understands himself and the world. Although some find his conversion in Act Three hard to believe, he (together withKristine) offers that message of hope that gives promise to Nora ” future. DOLLSHOUSE|SETTING OTHER ELEMENTS-SETTING (IDOL SETT) -A Doll’s House takes place in a large Norwegian town.
The entire drama unfolds on one set, a “comfortable room’ in the Helmers’ house that serves both as a drawing room in which to receive guests and as family room where the children play and where the family sets up its Christmas tree. There is a door to the entryway and another toTorvald’s study. Ibsen describes this setting in minute detail. About midway through his career, he adapted a style of drama that has been called ” photographic.’ Instead of creating various country or city scenes as background for his characters, he “takes a picture’ of one room they inhabit.
Every piece of furniture, every prop reveals thecharacters of the people who live in this place. For example, in theHelmers’ drawing room there is a “small bookcase with richly bound books.’ What better way to describe Torvald, their owner, than as ” richly bound’- someone who looks good from the outside? Also, the Christmas tree serves to represent various stages in Nora Helmer ” life. When her life appears happy, the tree is beautifully trimmed. When her happiness is shattered, the tree is stripped and drooping. Ibsen has described the set and its props precisely, so that every production will reproduce this same “photograph’ of the Helmers ” living room. Probably the most significant thing about the setting of this plays that it concerns middle-class characters and values.
It takes place in an unnamed city, where banking and law would be considered normal and respectable occupations. Banking is the occupation most closely associated with money, the symbol of middle-class goals, and the crimes of the characters- Nora, her father, and Krogstad- are monetary ones. Notice also how Torvald, a lawyer and bank manager, is preoccupied with Nora’s extravagance, or waste of money. Up until Ibsen’s time, serious drama had been almost exclusively concerned with members of the aristocracy or military heroes. Comedy had served to depict the lives of the farmers, workers, and lower class.
But A Doll’s House is a serious drama about the middle class. Some might even say it is a tragedy of everyday life. In light oftoday’s understanding of marital roles and the larger issue of women ” self-awareness, would you call the fate of the Helmers’ marriage tragedy? DOLLSHOUSE|THEMES THEME (IDOL THEM) -The major themes of A Doll’s House recur in many of Ibsen’s plays, including Hedda Gabler. -1.
THE INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY Ibsen felt strongly that society should reflect people’s needs, not work against them. In A Doll’s House, society’s rules prevent the characters from seeing and expressing their true nature. When Krogstad tells Nora that the law takes no account of good motives, she cries, “Then they must be very bad laws!’ At the end of the play, she realizes she has existed in two households ruled by men and has accepted the church and society without ever questioning these institutions. In the third act, Nora separates herself from the “majority’ and the books that support them.’ But,’ she says, “I can’t go on believing what the majority says, orwhat’s written in books.
I have to think over these things myself and try to understand them.’ The individual has triumphed over society, but at a heavy price that includes her children. When Nora walks out the door, she becomes a social outcast. -2. DUTY TO ONESELF Ibsen seems to be saying that your greatest duty is to understand yourself. At the beginning of the play, Nora doesn’t realize she has self. She’s playing a role.
The purpose of her life is to pleaseTorvald or her father, and to raise her children. But by the end ofthe play, she discovers that her “most sacred duty’ is to herself. She leaves to find out who she is and what she thinks. -3. THE PLACE OF WOMEN This was a major theme in late nineteenth-century literature and appeared in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, to name only few. Ibsen refused to be called a feminist, preferring to be known as a humanist.
He had little patience with people, male or female, whodidn’t stand up for their rights and opinions. Still, he argued that society’s rules came from the traditionally male way of thinking. He saw the woman’s world as one of human values, feelings, and personal relationships, while men dealt in the abstract realm of laws, legal rights, and duties. In A Doll’s House, Nora can’t really see how it is wrong to forge a name in order to save life, but Torvald would rather die than break the law or borrow money. This difference in thinking is what traps Nora.
However, for Ibsen, the triumph of the individual embraces the right of women to express themselves. In the end, Nora’s duty to know herself is more important than her female role. -4. APPEARANCE AND REALITY At the beginning of the play, family life is not what it seems. Nora is Torvald’s “little squirrel’; they appear to have a perfect marriage and their home is debt-free. Nora seems content and Torvald is in control.
Scandal can’t touch them. Everyone concerned wants to keep up appearances. But, little by little, as the play progresses, reality replaces appearances. Nora is upset when Dr. Rank shatters the appearance that theirrelationship is innocent. Torvald insists on keeping up the appearance of marriage even after rejecting Nora for her past crime.
He is appalled when Krogstad calls him by his first name at the bank- itdoesn’t appear proper. Dr. Rank wants to appear healthy. Krogstad and Nora want to hide their deeds and are enmeshed in a tissue of lies. Only when the characters give up their deceptions and cast off their elaborately constructed secrets can they be whole. Ask yourself how all the characters achieve this freedom from appearances by the play ” send.
Do any of them fail? -5. THE COLLAPSE OF THE PARENTAL IDEAL Nora seems to be under the impression that her father was perfect, and she tried to replace him- first with Torvald, then with Rank. When she realizes her father wasn’t looking out for her best interests, it’s only a short step to discovering that Torvald isn’t either. DOLLSHOUSE|STYLE STYL (IDOL STYL) -After finishing an earlier play, Ibsen wrote a letter saying, “Weare no longer living in the age of Shakespeare… what I desired to depict were human beings, and therefore I would not let them talk the language of the gods.’ This doesn’t seem unusual to us today because we expect the major characters in contemporary plays and movies to speak in everyday language.
But in Ibsen’s day the use of common speech was shocking. Writers in the mid-1800 s were largely devoted to the tradition requiring plays to be about larger-than-life heroes who spoke grand and noble language. EvenIbsen’s early plays were about heroic events and contained dialogue filled with poetry. But later he wanted to do something different. He wanted to write realistic plays about the average middle-class people who made up his audience and who spoke the way they did. In A Doll’s House, thecharacters use everyday vocabulary and colloquial expressions.
They interrupt each other, correct themselves, and speak in incomplete sentences. This switch to realistic dialogue is considered one ofthe major breakthroughs in the development of modern drama. It’s also important to note that Ibsen was writing in Dano-Norwegian. For centuries, Norway’s art and literature had been heavily influenced by Denmark. Even when a group of authors finally started a Norwegian writers’s society, they met in Denmark. Then in the 1800 s, Norwegians became very nationalistic.
They wanted their own art and their own language. In those days there were only two languages to choose from: a mixture of peasant dialects or a refined mixture of Norwegian and Danish. Ibsen was part of the first generation who had grown up speaking and writing Dano-Norwegian. (Today in Norway, evenIbsen’s language sounds old-fashioned and stilted because the language has reduced the amount of Danish and increased the amount of colloquial Norwegian. ) There are several notable differences between Ibsen’s original language and English translations. English has many synonyms and uses many modifiers.
Dano-Norwegian, on the other hand, tends to be simpler, using fewer words and adjectives. It will use a few very brief, strong images, instead of effusive descriptions. This is evident in A Doll’s House in several ways. There are very few metaphors (elaborate word comparisons) or descriptive adjectives. The sparse language lends itself to understatement and to multilevel meanings for single words. Much of the humor comes from understanding the layers of different meaning.
Ibsen adds his own strict control of language to this natural Norwegian economy. Noneof the dialogue is superfluous; it is all packed with meaning. Infact, often the dialogue means more than the character knows it means! An example of this “loaded’ dialogue occurs when Torvald talks about how an immoral parent poisons the whole family. He is referring to Krogstad, but Nora’s replies refer to herself.
The differences between English and Norwegian make Ibsen’s plays somewhat difficult to translate. Ibsen’s own wish was “that the dialogue in the translations be kept as close to everyday, ordinary speech as possible.’ One difficulty, for example, is that Norwegiandoesn’t use contractions, but English without contractions sounds dry and stilted. Most modern translators try to keep Ibsen’s text close to everyday English and the spirit, if not the word, of the original. This means that phrases may change from earlier to later translations depending on current usage. Also, be aware that some versions available in America are British and use distinctly British speech patterns. DOLLSHOUSE|FORM FORM AND STRUCTURE (IDOL FORM) -The basic form for A Doll’s House comes from the French piece bien faite (well-made play), with which Ibsen became familiar while producing plays in Oslo and Bergen, Norway.
At the time, France was the leader in world drama; however, “serious’ dramatists in France looked down on the piece bien faite as low-class entertainment. Typically, this kind of play contained the same stock characters-including the domineering father, the innocent woman in distress, the jealous husband, the loyal friend, the cruel villain- who underwent predictable crises involving lost letters, guilty secrets, and mistaken identity. Intrigue and tension-building delays were heaped on top of each other until the final embrace or pistol shot. There was always a moral to the story. Ibsen adopted the techniques but changed the characters. Instead of being cardboard types, they are complicated people whose problems the audience can identify with.
You (as the reader or audience member) can learn something about yourself and your world through the intrigue and tension onstage. Nora’s plight makes you consider your own ideas and relationships, for example. Another structural technique commonly used by Ibsen is to place all of the important “events’ before the play opens. Instead of witnessing the events as they occur, you find them revealed and explained in different ways as the play progresses. The key past event in this play is Nora’s secret loan obtained by forging her father ” signature. Other important past events are Krogstad’s crime, Mrs.
Linde’s marriage, and Dr. Rank’s inherited fatal illness. The action of the play is very compressed. It takes place in one location (the living room) over a period of three days. The five major characters are closely related, and their lives and roles mirror or contrast with each other’s. One character cannot act without affecting each of the others.
Even the small part of the nursemaid is tied in tothe major theme of Nora’s development from child to child-wife to woman. She not only connects Nora to the past but foreshadows the future when Nora will leave her own children to be cared for by another. This unity of time, place, and characters gives the play what some have called “unrelenting cohesion.’ In addition, every prop and costume is meant to be symbolic, every conversation layered with meanings. For example, one reader points out that Nora addresses her baby as “my sweet baby doll’ (a reminder of her own doll role) and plays hide-and-seek (a reminder of hidden truth) with the older children.
You might want to list the ways in which the words, action, and setting give off many messages. Just as the details reveal the meaning, the overall action is constructed to make you feel the tension mounting within the play. ActOn e proceeds from the calm of everyday life to disturbing interruptions and revelations. In Act Two, thoughts of death and suicide culminate in the climax of Nora’s frantic tarantella.
In ActThree, you feel the calm as the confrontation between Nora and Torvaldapproaches. Some think that the play’s resolution- Nora’s decision to depart- is also its true climax. (See illustration. ) DOLLSHOUSE|ACTONETHE STOR (IDOLSTOR) -ACT ONE-It’s Christmas Eve at the Helmers’ house, and a warm fire crackles against the cold winter day outside.
Nora Helmer, a beautiful young wife and mother, happily comes home with her arms full of presents. She puts the packages on a table and gives a generous tip to the delivery boy who’s brought the Christmas tree. Then she tells the maid to keep the tree hidden from the children and hums to herself as she guiltily nibbles on macaroons, her favorite snack. We ” re immediately caught up in the surprises and planning that surround Christmas. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -NOTE: Ibsen’s stage description of the Helmers’ drawing room is unusually precise and detailed. You ” ll find that this fits in perfectly.
The play is so carefully planned that every prop serves a function. Already we know the home fire is burning, and we ” ll soon see that, by eating macaroons, Nora is playing with fire. Her first word, “hide,’ portends that the appearance of a happy home is just that: an appearance. Many things besides the tree are hidden from view.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -Nora “steals’ over to listen at her husband’s study door, much the way a child might sneak around a grown-up. Torvald’s first words toher, “Is that my little lark twittering… my squirrel rummaging… ?’ could be a father’s to a small daughter. But if she ” s treated like a child or a pet, she’s an adored one. Torvald is genuinely glad to see her, and he comes from his study to talk toher and see what she’s bought.
Nora seems to be content with this relationship. From the beginning she manipulates her husband withthe same ingenious plots that children use to get their way. She pleads and pouts and flirts, and bolsters his ego by chiming “Whatever you say, Torvald,’ and “You know I could never think of going against you.’ — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -NOTE: This dominant husband / submissive wife relationship represented the ideal for many middle-class Europeans who first saw this play. But recognizing their own type of behavior at the beginning of the play made the ending seem a personal insult. How do you view Nora and Torvald from this early exchange between the two? Ask yourself how you feel about relationships between men and women. Is there always some kind of role-playing going on? If so, what kinds of roles seem to fulfill women? to fulfill men? Are roles necessary? As you read the play, try to figure out how Ibsen would answer these questions.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -Despite their playfulness, Nora and Torvald are speaking about serious subject: money. Torvald is sure that Nora has a woman ” s understanding of money- that is, she can’t handle it properly. Thus, all the finances in this household are attended to by him, and when Nora wants money she must wheedle it out of him. Now she wants him to borrow money for Christmas gifts. Even though he has just been made manager of the bank and they won’t have to worry about money, Torvald doesn’t want to owe anyone anything, even for a month, for then a bit of “freedom’s lost.’ This question of borrowing foreshadows the revelation of Nora’s great secret of the past. When it is revealed, think back to how she might be reacting now to this lecture about debt.
Still he rewards Nora’s pout with money and condescendingly lays the blame for her alleged mismanagement on heredity. According to Torvald, Nora’s father let money carelessly run through his fingers in the same way. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -NOTE: HEREDITY This is a favorite theme of Ibsen’s. His next play, Ghosts, deals with a fatal illness that is inherited by a son because of his father’s sexual activities. Throughout this play, heredity will be credited for passing on physical traits or problems (like brown hair or Dr. Rank’s disease) from parent to child.
Heredity will also be blamed for passing along moral traits like Krogstad’s dishonesty and Nora’s mismanagement of money. But Ibsen wants you to wonder how much of moral character results from heredity and how much results from environment. Is character determined by genes or by what you ” re taught? What are theconsequences if character is something you ” re born with? How is the situation different if it’s something you learn? Be on the lookout for how each character views heredity. Who is proven wrong? — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -Torvald suspects Nora has been eating macaroons, another extravagance of which he disapproves. She repeatedly denies it.
You now have a clear picture of the control Torvald exercises and his way of thinking. Borrowing money or eating sweets is forbidden inthe Helmer house. Nora is adorable and impractical, and money runs through her fingers. But there is one flaw in this picture: Nora has lied about the macaroons.
It’s a small thing which seems to fit into their domestic games. You will soon become aware of how important lies have been in their married life. Almost immediately after presenting this picture of typical middle-class married life, Ibsen will take you beneath the surface. Past truths will be exposed to challenge this marriage.
The first voice from the past to disturb the comfortable presents that of Nora’s old school friend Kristine, now Mrs. Linde, a widow who has just returned to town. The Helmers’ friend Dr. Rank comes in at the same time. The men go into the study, leaving the women to talk. At first Nora acts the same way with Kristine as she had acted with Torvald, continuing her pleasant, empty-headed chatter.
But instead of being manipulated by it, Kristine treats Nora with pity and subtle insults. Kristine has been through years of hardship. She married a man she didn’t love because she needed money to care for he railing mother. Since then, both her husband and her mother have died. Kristine is now alone, trying to support herself.
She assumes, justifiably, that Nora has been coddled and protected all her life. There is no sign in Nora’s childlike behavior up to this point thatshe’s ever faced hardship. The need for money and the way men in an earlier era controlled it at the expense of women is again being raised. As you read, keep in mind the role of money and the way women had traditionally obtained it. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -NOTE: Kristine’s description of her empty marriage, of how herhusband left her nothing, not even children or “a sense of loss to feed on,’ is beyond Nora’s comprehension. Here is another foreshadowing, this time of how completely Nora’s attitude towardTorvald and marriage will change in two days’ time.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -Nora at once plans to help Kristine get a job in Torvald’s bank. She boasts about how she ” ll arrange it by manipulating Torvald. Kristine thinks her offer of help is very kind, especially since Nora has no concept of life’s burdens. Can you remember a time you ” ve been indignant with someone for passing judgment on you when that person didn’t even know all the facts? That’s exactly how Nora feels when Kristine, who should be her equal, treats her like a sheltered child.
She’s annoyed enough to tell Kristine her biggest secret- the key “event’ of the play, eventhough it has already taken place. Like Kristine, who has made a sacrifice for her mother, Nora, too, has sacrificed for someone. Near the beginning of her marriage, Torvald became very ill and might have died if he hadn’t traveled south to a milder climate. Knowing that Torvald’s principles would never have allowed him to borrow money for the trip, Nora herself secretly arranged for large sum from a moneylender and pretended it came from her father, who had recently died. For seven years she’s scrimped and saved to payoff the loan.
In fact, far from being a spendthrift, she has been economizing by making her own Christmas decorations and by secretly copying documents to raise money! Now, with Torvald’s new position, she ” ll be able to pay off the remainder of the debt and bury her secret. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -NOTE: It now seems that Nora’s relationship with Torvald is guided by keeping secrets. What is the necessity of secrets? Keep a count of the various secrets of each character as the play progresses. Howdo they affect each life? How are they revealed? When does secret information give power? When is it a burden? — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -We get an even more intimate picture of Nora and Torvald’s marriage.
Kristine asks if Nora will ever tell Torvald what she’s done, and Nora responds no! “How painfully humiliating for him if he ever found ofthe was in debt to me. That would just ruin our relationship. Our beautiful happy home would never be the same.’ — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -NOTE: KNOWING AND REALIZING Nora is absolutely right. But although she knows, she doesn’t yet realize what a petty man Torvald is. She knows their relationship is completely one-sided- Torvaldkeeps her in constant debt to him. Any sign of strength from her would ruin their relationship.
But she has a hunch she might need the power over Torvald that this secret will give her, “when he stops enjoying my dancing and dressing up and reciting for him.’ Nora already knows more about their relationship than she thinks she does, but she hasn’t ever been forced to consciously face these facts. What is the practical difference between knowing something and realizing it? Would Nora behave the same way if she truly realized what kind of man Torvald is? — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -It might seem a little odd that Nora talks so openly to a woman like Kristine who’s so different from her, and whom she hasn’t seen inten years. But once she’s confided her splendid secret, Nora goes onto talk of her fantasies- including one in which a wealthy old man falls in love with her and leaves her his money when he dies. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -NOTE: This fantasy serves two purposes: it underscores Nora’s’father fixation’ for older men, and it announces Dr.
Rank ” appearance. Watch for the significance of this fantasy in Nora andRank’s relationship. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -No sooner has Nora finished describing her little Eden than the serpent enters the garden in the form of Mr. Krogstad.
Both women react uneasily to his presence. Mrs. Linde turns away and looks out the window, and Nora nervously asks why he wants to see Torvald. Krogstad, who works in Torvald’s bank, assures Nora it’s “dry business.’ As Krogstad goes in to see Torvald, Dr. Rank comes out ofthe study to join the women. The first thing we learn about Dr.
Rank is that he is terminally ill. He compares himself to Krogstad, who is “morally sick.’ Watch forthe theme of inherited moral defects as the play progresses. In a mood of nervous gaiety, Nora throws caution to the wind by breaking one of Torvald’s rules- she offers her guests the forbidden macaroons. But the minute Torvald appears, she hides the macaroons.
Through flattery and exaggeration, she manages to get Kristine a jobin Torvald’s bank. Krogstad has already gone. Rank and Torvald then leave withKristine, who is off to find an apartment. As they are going, Nora’s three children come running in from outside with their nurse. Nora immediately drops everything to play with them.
Symbolically, she calls the youngest her “sweet little dollbaby’ and joins them in a game of hide-and-seek. Doesn’t this remind you of Nora’s “doll’s tat us with Torvald and the “games’ they play together? Not surprisingly, Nora is the one who hides. Also not surprisingly, as you will learn, Krogstad is the one who returns to catch her playing her game. He alone knows the game she’s been playing all these years. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -NOTE: The fact that Ibsen chooses to bring the children on stage means he wants you to see them and hear them. They must be real to the audience, because they ” ll figure prominently in Nora’s future thoughts and actions.
It is also a chance for you to see Nora as a conventional nineteenth-century mother, just as you have seen her as a conventional wife. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -Nora sends the children to their nurse and faces Krogstad alone. He reveals that he used to know Kristine Linde, and that the job shew as just promised is his job- Torvald is firing him. We also discover another secret- Krogstad is the moneylender that Nora is paying back.
He threatens to tell Torvald about the loan unless Nora gets him his job back. This job is vitally important to him, because it means respectability for the sake of his young sons. What does this suggest about Krogstad’s view of transferable morality? Nora insists she can’t help him and dares him to reveal her debt. It would only cause a little unpleasantness for her, and Torvald would then surely fire him. But Krogstad holds the cards this time. Nora, being a woman, could not have gotten the loan on her own credit.
Infact, Nora had forged her father’s name but dated the signature several days after her father’s death. Nora has committed a serious crime, forgery- the same crime that marred Krogstad’s reputation and has continued to haunt him. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -NOTE: In order to emphasize his ideas, Ibsen creates very close parallels between his characters. Notice how Krogstad’s desire for respectability echoes Torvald’s position. His plea on behalf of his children is no different, it seems, from Nora’s pleas on behalf offers. The identical nature of their crimes is not a coincidence.
Howdo you react to this type of repetition? Does it seem unrealistic? Does it help you see what Ibsen’s message is? Do you understand thecharacters better? — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -Nora cries that their crimes weren’t similar at all. Her motives had been pure, to save a life, while his motives had been for selfish gain. He calmly points out that “Laws don’t inquire into motives.’ Nora thinks “they must be very poor laws.’ — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -NOTE: There are other instances in the play where a woman stands for individuality against a male-oriented society. Here, Krogstademphasizes that society is much more concerned with the letter ofthe law than with individual intent. How do society’s impersonal rules and laws conflict with each character’s specific needs? What does this play say about the resolution of this conflict? Which is more important- individual fulfillment or society’s demands? — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -Krogstad’s blackmail is complete. If he loses his job and respectability, he will drag Nora down with him.
He leaves a stunned and disbelieving Nora behind. She simply can’t comprehend that person can be indicted for a crime committed out of love. Nora is shaken but returns to her usual techniques to keep reality at arm ” s length. Torvald returns, asking if someone was just there.
Nora lies again, but to no avail. Torvald saw Krogstad leaving. He guesses theclerk’s purpose and is angered by Nora’s request that Krogstad be reinstated. A discussion of Krogstad’s- and by implication, Nora’s- crime follows. It condemns her utterly. Like the law, Torvald has no interest in motives, either.
A person who’s committed forgery has to put on a false face even in family circles, says Torvald. Furthermore, dishonesty that turns up so early in life is usually caused by a lying mother! The theme of moral sickness returns. When he leaves, Nora is clearly shaken by his attitude. The children beg her to play, but she refuses to let them near her. Is she amoral invalid? The question terrifies her. “Hurt my children? Poison my home’s he cries.
“That’s not true. Never. Never in all theworld.’ Her values remain intact. Home and family are her first priorities.
How is Nora likely to respond to Krogstad’s threat at this point? How would you respond? Why is your answer likely to be different from Nora’s? Is there any “right’ way out of the situation? — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -NOTE: By now, you will have noticed that all the important dramatic events in Nora’s life took place before the play started: the forgery, the borrowed money, the trip to save Torvald’s life. The first act has served to reveal a situation that already exists. Krogstad’s attempt to dislodge and reveal the past sets the action of Acts Two and Three in motion. From now on, coincidence and thecharacters’ responses to their current situations will determine theplay’s resolution.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — DOLLSHOUSE|ACTTWOACT TWO-Christmas Eve has turned into Christmas Day. After the presents and excitement, the symbolic tree has been stripped and the candles are burned out. For everyone else, the waiting is over, but for Nora it’s just beginning. In the first act, Torvald called her a squirrel and a bird; now she paces like an animal that’s newly aware of its cage.
She ” trying to convince herself that Krogstad won’t carry out his threat, but nevertheless she checks the mailbox and listens fearfully for visitors. Anne-Marie, the nursemaid, enters. The short dialogue that follows between Nora and Anne-Marie serves three important functions: -1. It tells us that Anne-Marie was Nora’s own nursemaid. This underscores the fact that Nora went straight from her father’s’nurs.