Study Guide

A Doll's House

by Henrik Ibsen

A Doll's House eText - Reading Pointers for Sharper Insights

This eText contains embedded glossary terms and other notes added by our community of educators. Simply mouseover or tap on the yellow highlighted words within the text to see the annotations.
Turn Off

Reading Pointers for Sharper Insights

To better appreciate the focus of Ibsen's work in A Doll's House, readers need to understand how he uses his characters to develop commentary on social issues:

  1. Ibsen creates characters that are stereotypical for the era of the play:

  2. Marriage was a private institution that was closed to outsiders, but was under society's constant scrutiny:

    • Notice how Ibsen clearly defines societal duties for a wife, and how Nora struggles emotionally with these restraints.

    • Mrs. Linde's character foreshadows Nora's ultimate conclusions and actions about her marriage with Torvold.

    • Aspirations of married women were suppressed, as they maintained positions subordinate to their husbands. Pay particular attention to how different women in the play relate to this concept.

  3. The interaction of two characters and the coincidental nature of their meeting are key to developing the subject of women's independence. Pay attention to how Krogstad and Mrs. Linde drive Nora to establish her own individuality.

  4. Ibsen's philosophy as expressed in A Doll's House is that all humans have a need to be fulfilled, and each unique personality strives for the di gnity of individuality. Pay particular attention to the following:

    • Consider the title of the play and what it might signify.

    • Analyze how characters interact within the confinement of the house.

    • Note how Nora's small acts of rebellion slowly escalate until the climax of the play.

  5. Pay attention to how the motifs of pride, deception, and betrayal are portrayed through Nora and Torvold's relationship in the following ways:

    • borrowing and spending money

    • expectations of certain behaviors

    • taking outside jobs

    • Dr. Rank's feelings for Nora

    • Mrs. Linde's confrontation with Nora

    • Torvold's treatment of Nora as property

    • Torvold's job as a public figure