Ibsen’s A Doll’s House
Choose one of the options below and develop an analysis:
In “The Quintessence of Ibsenism,” George Bernard Shaw says that Ibsen, reacting against a common theatrical preference for strange situations, “saw that… the more familiar the situation, the more interesting the play. Shakespeare had put ourselves on the stage but not our situations. Our uncles seldom murder our fathers… marry our mothers… Ibsen… give us not only ourselves but ourselves in our own situations. The things that happen to his stage figures are things that happen to us. One consequence is that his plays are much more important to us than Shakespeare’s. Another is that they are capable of both hurting us cruelly and filling us with excited hopes of escape from idealistic tyrannies, and with vision of intenser life in the future” (Shaw, 1922, 230-231). How much of this do you believe? Explain.
How does the time of Christmas reinforce the ideas in the play?
Near the beginning of the play, how does Mrs. Linde’s presence help to define Nora’s character? How does Nora’s response to Krogstad’s entrance tell us something about Nora?
What does Dr. Rank contribute to the play? If he were eliminated, what would be lost? What suddenly renders Nora incapable of asking Dr. Rank for a loan?
Ibsen very reluctantly acceded to a request for an alternate ending to a German production. In the new ending, Helmer forces Nora to look at their sleeping children and reminds her that “tomorrow when they wake up and call for their mother, they will be—motherless.” Nora “struggles with herself as the play concludes by saying, “oh, this is a sin against myself, but I cannot leave.” In view of the fact that this last act moves toward a happy ending, what is wrong with this alternative ending?
Can it be argued that—although at the end Nora goes out to achieve self-realization—her abandonment of her children is a crime? Nora seems to imply, in some passages, that because she forged a signature that she is unfit to bring them up. How do you see this situation?
The play is not so much about women’s rights as about the need to find out the kind of person he or she really is, and to strive to become a better person. What evidence can you offer to support this interpretation?
You should work on answering the question as related to the story. How you answer the initial question in the introduction will help you to develop your thesis. There is no need to include a summary of the play, as your instructor has read the material; instead focus on writing a reader-response (Links to an external site.) essay, or choose a literary theory for the basis of your analysis. The following video provides a great introduction to writing a thesis for your literary analysis:
Link to A Doll’s House: