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Ibsen's Doll House

Ibsen's play, 'A 'Doll's house," is examined. These questions are posed:

1. In the early acts , Torvald Helmer holds forth on the role of the husband , standards of honesty or probity for dealing with money. Above all, in his talk and in many little ways , he demonstrates the role assigned to Nora in their household.What are revealing things he says and does ? What portrait of him as a major character emerges in Acts 1 and 2 ? How do you react to him?

2. In what ways does Nora live up to the stereotype of the ''little woman'' ? How does she confirm to her husband's conception of her ? What are telling details or patterns of behavior that make her the weaker partner in their marriage ? What are revealing things she says or does in the early acts of the play ?(

3.In Acts 1 and 2 , how does Mrs. Linde serve as a foil to Nora ? How does Isben use her to remind the audience of the harsh economic realities facing women on the fringes of middle - class society? ( What light do the comments of the Nurse throw on the role of lower-class women?)

4. What is Krogstad's central role in the plot of Helmer's ( and his society's ) standards about money , credit , and respectability ?What is the fact that at one time the two men were schoolmates an embarrassment to Helmer ?What is the role of the relationship between Krogstad and Mrs. Linde in the play as a whole ?

5. What is the nature of Nora's dealings with Krogstad ? How do they test her character and her view of the world ? How do they make her change or grow ? How do the revelations about the hushed -up events of the past change your view of Nora ?

Solution Preview

As you answer your questions, please refer to these ideas for assistance:

1. Please focus on Torvald's initial role as husband in the early parts of the play. Please recognize how he epitomizes the masculine role of the breadwinner as both banker and lawyer.
In addition to his economic dominance, you might also discuss his physical and emotional control over his wife as he treats her like foolish child, a plaything, "a doll."

When you need to examine his words and actions, look at his use of degrading pet names such as "little songbird," "little skylark," "little person," etc. Instead of showing a loving, equitable relationship, Torvald reveals his egotism and his concern merely for his own public reputation. He demonstrates his vanity throughout the initial acts. If you need to locate quotes, please notice where he chides Nora for spending money even on macaroons!

When looking at his standards of honesty, particularly dealing with money, notice his dishonesty as Torvald chooses to dismiss Krogstad. Torvald insists that he, unlike Nora's father, has a reputation that transcends suspicion. He refuses to allow his wife's persuasion to change his mind. Even though he and Krogstad were once close friends, he opts to dismiss him for selfish reasons. Please notice how Torvald's character is an embodiment of overall society and how people seek to fit in socially or materialistically. Ibsen uses his character to portray moral and physical corruption with the ultimate demise of both Krogstad and Dr. Rank

As you dissect his role as a major character, please notice his hypocrisy and layers of deceit. He also appears to be superficial in his concern with appearances: he worries less about Krogstad's fate than what others would think about his wife's role in his decision. Although you can cite a myriad of quotes to represent his selfishness, this quote from Act ...

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