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A Doll's House
Transcript of A Doll's House
- Torvald's wife, friend of Christine
- Nora's childhood friend, Torvald's soon-to-be employee
- Nora's husband, Krogstad's employer
- employee of Torvald, not a friend to them
- a family friend with turberculosis; visits often
What's Up With Those People?
A Doll's House
Where Does It All Happen?
What Is It Trying to Tell Me?
What Does That Mean?
So What Actually Happened?
by Henrik Ibsen
A Little Bit of Background...
The play takes place in around the late 1870's in Norway, although there is no specific connection to Norway in the play, allowing it's theme to spread to a more broad audience. At this time women were not allowed to do anything without their husbands consent, and were considered the "weaker sex", unable of original thought or deception.
A Few Characters...
Introduced to characters, it is Christmas time
School friend Christine comes, and Nora tells Christine of her marriage
Torvald was sick and needed to go south or he would die, and Nora acquired needed funds without consent
She has been slowly paying it back over the course of the year
Widowed Christine seeks work, Torvald will get her some
Krogstad makes Nora confess that she forged her father's name on the bond, and threatens to tell Torvald of her forgery if he gets fired
Nora tries and fails to convince Torvald to not fire Krogstad, and Krogstad's dismissal is sent out
While starting to ask Doctor Rank for help, he reveals he is in love with her, but this does not affect their friendship (Dr. Rank has tuberculosis)
Krogstad comes to Nora and tells her that because she has failed, he has been fired
He leaves a letter in Torvald's letter box explaining everything that Nora did
Nora buys time by pretending to have forgotten her dance she must preform the next night
Clearly Nora is considering committing suicide if Torvald finds and reads the letter
Society views women as morally inferior to men and are treated as if they are lesser than men.
Nora is repeatedly treated like a child and constantly given pet nicknames.
Torvald Helmer represents society at the time
Women are needy, weak beings that have to look to men for comfort and security
Men being constantly in charge of their women “
I shall not allow you
to bring up the children; I dare not trust them with you.”(3.88; emphasis added)
Stripping his wife of one of the most sacred duties to a woman; motherhood. He believes that he is elevated, morally and socially
Nora proves society’s belief wrong at the end when she leaves Torvald to live her life, showing that women are not as society places them.
Pretending to be someone/something they’re not, will most likely lead to a person’s self-defeat.
Presented as well-mannered, ordinary people with casual personalities.
Ibsen reveals true flaws in each of their personas.
Nora Helmer initially appears to be a childish, shallow, simple-minded spendthrift ; “you know, we can’t spend money recklessly,”(1.4), but she replies, “we can borrow until then.”(1.4)
She is revealed a strong willed, independent woman when she tells Helmer, “I must stand quite alone, if I am to understand myself and everything about me. It is for that reason that I cannot remain with you any longer.” (3.94)
Taking full responsibility for her actions.
Torvald and Nora give the illusion of the perfect couple to society;their marriage is anything but stable,
Torvald expresses the right idea of marriage but his actions do not reflect his words.
He treats Nora with clearly defined superiority
He does not hold to his moral ideals when a woman is involved
He clearly states, "Many a
has been able to retrieve his character, if he has openly confessed his fault and taken his punishment.” (1.36; empahasis added)
But he does not forgive her because she is a woman
“Helmer: That’s right. We’ll share it, Nora, as man and wife should.” (2.47)
Allegory of the Christmas Tree-
The Tree clearly represents Nora
Painted by the author as a decoration meant to be seen and dressed prettily but have no real influence
The Tree is also not allowed or considered fit to be seen until dressed properly
Nora asks for Torvald’s advice on how to dress and does not want the guests to see her until she is in her dress.
When the Christmas Tree is in greatest disarray, so is Nora
"The Christmas Tree is in the corner by the piano, stripped of its ornaments and with burnt-down candle-ends on its disheveled branches. Nora’s cloak and hat are lying on the sofa. She is alone in the room, walking about uneasily.” (2.39)
The lost lovers, Mrs.Linde and Krogstad
Torn apart due to Mrs.Linde’s necessity to provide for her family
“Well, I am like a shipwrecked woman clinging to some wreckage-no one to mourn for, no one to care for.” (3.63).
Krogstad has been stranded with no job due to his dishonesty
Mrs.Linde has lost work due to her misfortune.
Work, to them, is essential
"Two on the same piece of wreckage would stand a better chance together than each on their own." (3.63)
Relates to the play’s tragic fall of characters due to their inner flaws
Mrs.Linde with her desire for money, and Krogstad with his dishonest tendencies.
Didn't They Say...?
"There can be no freedom or beauty about a house that depends on borrowing and debt."
~ said by Torvald (Ibsen; 1.5)
"But no man would sacrifice his honour for the one he loves."
~ said by Torvald (Ibsen; 3.78)
“Do you know, Nora, I have often wished that you might be threatened by some great danger, so that I might risk my life’s blood, and everything, for your sake.”
~ said by Torvald (Ibsen; 3.69)
Women constantly are giving up their integrity for men
Nora is prepared to give up her life for her husband, and even goes into a secret debt to save his life
Christine gave up the love of her life so that she could support her family
Nora sacrificed the experience and joy of raising her children
Extreme difference in priorities between men and women; men want to world to see them as amazing, when women only crave the attention of a husband who loves her for herself
Foil against Nora’s actions; seen as ugly and enslaving
Nora as being a house, a house that is being shaped by the people around her
Torvald reads the letter, takes away any freedom she had, sees her as an ugly, selfish, thoughtless woman
Nora was depending on borrowing and debt.
Nora compared to a house also emphasizes the fact that Nora is viewed as an object, something to be played with and controlled
Dramatic irony, he wishes that he would be able to save his wife from danger
At the learning of Nora’s secret however, he actually condemns her for what she has done.
Nora is still in costume from the dance-ball
Torvald is enchanted by her beauty, and by her beauty as an object, which in his mind an object that is his is and that he controls
Henrik Ibsen, born on March 20, 1828, is often considered the father of realism, and wrote a total of 25 plays and 1 poem. Ibsen spent most of his life in poverty, however in 1958 he married Suzannah Thoreson. Ibsen believed that husband and wife should be equal in marriage, a belief that showed clearly in his plays, most obviously in
A Doll's House.
He died of a stroke at age 78 on May 23, 1906.
While the Helmers are gone at the dress ball, Krogstad comes and talks to Christine
They were once lovers, and they agree to give their relationship another try
Although Krogstad wants to take his letter back Christine convinces him that it is best if all secrets between Nora and Torvald are revealed
After coming back from the party, Torvald eventually reads the letter
with anger and tells Nora what a thoughtless, stupid, foolish woman she is, how she has ruined him, and that the whole ordeal must remain unknown to the public
Krogstad sends the bond back with a letter releasing Nora from it
Torvald rejoices, and Nora realizes that he does not love her
She sits down and tells him she is leaving him to teach herself about the world, and cuts all ties from him and leaves slamming the door behind her
- because it is a play
Family drama -
follows daily life and struggles of a family
- strong focus on relationships between characters; response to life events
- downfall of Nora from society
Nora mentions to Torvald that she feels like she and her children are being treated like dolls
“But our home has been nothing but a playroom.”(3.77)
House is decorated to his liking, he manipulates Nora and the children within the house
He never takes Nora seriously because to him, she’s just a toy he uses for his own amusement.
Entire play occurs in the Helmers’ living room
“A room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not extravagantly.”(1.1)
Lets audience easily relate to the setting, as if it were their own house
Allows them to pick up Ibsen’s messages and helps them to easily relate to the ideas and themes he presents
Nora’s social awareness
Starting with when she boldly flirts with Doctor Rank only to come to herself after his declaration of love
She realizes her place is not to be flirting with an older man, but acting as hostess
The lamp burns when she is aware and following what society dictates, and is extinguished when she does not
“The Christmas Tree is in the corner...burnt-out candle-ends on its disheveled branches.” (2.39) Not even a few moments later Nora discusses the idea of leaving her home and children
Redemption and forgiveness.
When Doctor Rank subtly hints at his departure being his death, Nora offers him a light
Showing her forgiveness of him and he is lit with hope for redemption.
Look the part of Helmer’s wife for his image
Nora must sneak a macaroon, shown how easy and naturally lying comes
Lying to all of those around her and herself all of her life
Supposed to have opinions and thoughts of her father
Taught she was not as smart, or strong, or intuitive
Coaxes favors out of her husband
“Torvald, couldn’t you take me in hand and decide what I shall go as, and what sort of dress I shall wear?” (1.36)
Forging her father’s signature shows that she isn’t “silly, insignificant” (1.35)
She understands sacrifice and risk, and does it out of compassion and love for somebody she has been told to love all her life
Love that drives her actions
Believed that her actions showed that she wasn’t a good person or mother,
Drove her to suicidal thoughts
Torvald sees himself as higher than his wife
Shown many times with the names, “My little skylark” (1.13) and “My poor little Nora” (3.74) etc.
All of these names have the word little in them.
Torvald learned of what Nora had done he was outraged, instead of happy
Torvald is society at the time regarding men,
Puts others down to make himself feel better
Doesn’t waste a second in shaming Nora for actions that she was only driven to do by love that she thought they shared.
“…a hypocrite, a liar – worse, worse – a criminal” (3.72).
Driven by his public view, or how he appears to others.
Constantly worried about what other people think
Values the opinion of the world
Catalyst of the play
Krogstad is a lot like Nora
They both committed the same crime, they both did it out of compassion and love
Both considered taking their own lives rather than facing the reality of their actions
Goes from being the antagonist to a man in love
Driven by the want and need to be loved and cared for and to have someone to love and care for in return
Willing to let the debt go and free Nora from her difficult situation out of kindness
Krogstad shows so much growth in such little time
Demonstrates the both the destructive and healing powers of love
Struggle between right and wrong. She is driven by morals of what is wrong and what is right
Learned of all the hardships Nora was facing and offered help
Came to a choice; does she make sure Torvald finds out about Nora’s secret or does she help her friend keep it to herself?
“Helmer must know all about it. This unhappy secret must be disclosed” (3.64).
Her opinion of helping her friend
Believes she is helping to better Nora and Helmer’s marriage by making sure that they are completely truthful with each other
She ends up being the reason that Nora realized where she truly was in life and left Torvald
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