A Doll’s House Study Guide pdf Download for Free
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Henrik Ibsen was born on March 20, 1828, in Skien, Norway. He was the second son in a wealthy family that included five other siblings. When he was about 8 years old, his family was thrown into poverty due to complications with his father’s business. It was after this when Ibsen started to invest his time reading, writing, painting, and doing magic tricks.
Ibsen wrote his first play, Catiline, in 1850 which generated little interest. His second play, The Burial Mound, however, was performed at the Christiania Theatre on September 26, 1850.
Later, he wrote a series of plays which included Lady Inger (1855), The Feast at Solhoug (1856), Olaf Liljekrans (1857), The Vikings at Helgeland (1858), The Pretenders (1863), Peter Gynt
(1867), The League of Youth (1869), Emperor and Galilean (1873), Pillars of Society (1877), A Doll’s House (1879), Ghosts (1881), An Enemy of the People (1882), The Wild Duck (1884),
Hedda Gabler (1890), The Master Builder (1892), Little Eyolf (1894), John Gabriel Borkman (1896) and When We Dead Awaken (1899). He also wrote a dramatic epic poem, “Brand”
He married Suzannah Thoresen in 1858 and their only child, Sigurd, was born the following year. In 1900, Ibsen suffered his first of several strokes and poor health ended his writing career.
He died on May 23, 1906.
A Doll’s House is a family drama for the obvious reason that it concerns a family. It is a “drama” because it is a play—a piece of literature that is never fully realized until it is put on stage in front of an audience.
It is also a modern tragedy because it focuses on the trials and tribulations that face women in a patriarchal society. The play explores not only the status of women, but how they are victims of social forces to the extent that they are left with the role of a ―doll-wife.‖ In this tragedy, we don’t get blood and death at the end; we get the death of a marriage and of the characters’ old selves. Ibsen shows Nora, and maybe all the other characters, trapped in a society defined by restrictive gender roles. In order to become more than a doll, Nora must shatter the cornerstone that her entire society is based on: marriage.
The play can also be categorized as a realist drama. In a realist drama, the characters talk in a close approximation of everyday speech. The speeches are straightforward, conversational and concerned with normal, everyday things; which makes the play really easy for a modern audience to associate with.
MRS. LINDE: “You must not forget that I had a helpless mother and two little brothers. We couldn’t wait for you, Nils; your prospects seemed hopeless then.” (Pg 86) The vast majority of modern plays, TV shows, and movies are written in a similar style.
ABOUT THE TITLE
Just before Nora leaves her husband and children at the end of the play, she has the following to say to her husband, Torvald: “Our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife.”(Pg 111-112) It is therefore not too hard to guess where the play’s title might have come from. Torvald has never treated Nora as anything more than a plaything. He admires her beauty. He gets her to dance for him. He even dresses her up in costumes. In effect, she is his doll. The home they live in seems perfect and picturesque, but in reality it is just like the Helmers’ marriage: all
Nora adds, “at home I was papa’s doll-child.”(Pg 112) She has never been anything but a man’s plaything. Every house she’s ever lived in has been just as artificial; first her father‘s house,
and now her husband‘s house. No wonder the play is titled A Doll’s House!
In the beginning, the play seems to be biased toward Nora. We are definitely inclined to sympathize with her. It is very hard to be on Torvald’s side. From his reaction toward Nora for eating
macaroons, we know that he is overbearing. His demeaning little pet names for Nora further confirm this. Torvald, however, redeems himself in the end with the last line, “The most wonderful thing of all?”(Pg 120) The line seems to indicate that he is heading toward the same spiritual awakening as Nora.
This makes us move from seeing Nora as Torvald’s prisoner to seeing that all the characters, Torvald included, have beenprisoners in some way.