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Home : Studyworld Studynotes : A Doll's House
A Doll's House

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STUDYWORLD STUDYNOTES : A Dolls House

A Doll's House  by: Henrik Ibsen

Other Works:
1. An Enemy of the People


Summary:
Nora is a sheltered housewife who is domineered by he husband, until circumstances force her to show her own independence.

Symbols:
1. Tarantella - former happiness; tarantella is a dance that people used to get the poison out of them.
2. macaroons - all things childlike
3. Christmas Tree - perfection

Tone:
The tone is sarcastic, formal, patronizing and conceited, in various sections of the play.

General Notes:

-Nora and Torvald fall in love with the conceptions of each other, not their real selves. The marriage falls apart when they have to deal with reality.
-Nora was a perfect wife at the beginning of the play, but there were underlying deceptions beneath the perfection.


Major Characters:

Nora- Nora is the perfect wife, but borrows money from a loan shark to save Torvald's life.  This comes back to haunt her.

Torvald- Nora's husband. He often treats Nora like nothing more than a small child.

Dr. Rank- One of Nora's friends, that she confides in. Dr. Rank is in love with Nora.

Mrs. Linde - Another of Nora's friends. She is recently divorced, and Torvald gives her a job.

Nils Krogstad- a mean man. Nora borrowed money from him, and he blackmails her with that after Torvald fires him.

Personal Reaction: (One Student writes...)
I didn't like this play, and I didn't like Nora. Nora was treated like a child, and patronized throughout the entire play, something that I didn't think was right. Torvald was a huge jerk.  And then, when she finally left, it was for all of the wrong reasons, and she left all of her children in the house with Torvald. If I left a man like that, I would have taken my children with me, and left him without a trace.

Quotes:

Torvald: Is that my little lark, twittering out there? (p1)

Torvald: Come, come, my little skylark must not droop her wings. What is this! is my little
squirrel out of temper? (p3)

Torvald: Do you remember last Christmas? For a gull three weeks beforehand you shut yourself up every evening till long after midnight, making ornaments for the Christmas tree and all the other fine things that were to be a surprise to us. It was the dullest three weeks I ever spent! (p5)

Nora: Oh, well, don't be alarmed! You couldn't know that Torvald had forbidden [macaroons]. I must tell you that he is afraid they will spoil my teeth. But, bah! - once in a way - That's so, isn't is, Doctor Rank ? By your leave. [put a macaroon in his mouth]   You must have one too, Christine. And I shall have once, just a little one - or at the most,
two. (p16)

Torvald: It seems most commonly to be the mother's influence, though naturally a bad father's would have the same result. Every lawyer is familiar with that fact. This Krogstad, now, has been persistently poisoning his own children with lies and dissimulation; that is why I say he had lost all moral character. That is why my sweet little Nora must promise me not to
plead his cause. (p27)

Torvald: There! There! there- not these frightened dove's eyes! The whole thing is only the widest fantasy! Now, you must go and play trough the tarantella and practice with your tambourine. I shall go into the inner officer and shut the door, and I shall hear nothing; you can make as much noise as you need. (p37)

Torvald: It is so incredible that I can't take it in. But we must come to some understanding.  Take off that shawl. Take it off, I tell you. I must try to appease him ins oem way or another. The matter must be hushed up at any cost. And as for you and me, it must appear as if everything between us were just as before - but naturally only in the eyes of the world.  You wills till remain in my house, that is a matter of course. But I shall not allow you to bring up the children ; I dar not trust them to you. To think that I should be so obliged to say so to one whom I have loved so dearly and whom I still - No, that is all over. From this moment happiness is not the question ; all that concerns us is to save the remains, the fragments, the appearance... (p63)

Nora: No, that is just it. You don't understand me, and I have never understood you either - before tonight. No, you mustn't interrupt me. You must simply listen to what I say. Torvald, this is a settling of accounts. (p65)

Nora: And you have always been so kind to me. But our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll wife, just as at home I was Papa's doll child; and here the children have been my dolls. I thought it was great fun when you played with me, just as they thought it great fun when I played with them. That is what our marriage has been, Torvald.  (p67)

Nora: But you neither think nor talk like the man I could bind myself to. As soon as your fear was over - and it was no fear for what threatened me but for what might happen to you - when the whole thing was past, as far as you were concerned it was exactly as if nothing at all had happened. Exactly as before, I was you little skylark, your doll, which you would in the future treat with doubly gentle care because it was so brittle and fragile. [getting up] Torvald - it was then it dawned upon me that for eight years I had been living here with a strange man and had borne him three children. Oh, I can't bear to think of it. I could tear myself into little bits! (p70)



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