I am having trouble coming up with a strong thesis for "A Doll's House". Does anyone have any suggestions?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way to decide upon a thesis on A Doll's House is to try out ideas relative to themes and criticisms on the literary work on which the essay is to be written. Then, form a statement that can be substantiated with support from the play.

While the repression of Norma as a woman is the prevalent theme, it seems that other characters are also tragically bound in their social settings. Therefore, a thesis statement for an essay can be something like the following:

Ibsen's play, A Doll's House, depicts the lives of people who are tragically bound in their social settings.

With this thesis, the student can discuss how such characters as Mrs. Christine Linde married because she needed a wealthy businessman who could provide financial support for her and her ailing mother and two younger brothers. Because of her financial predicament, she jilted Nils Krogstad, whom she truly loved. Later, after her husband has died, she comes to Nora, hoping Nora can persuade her husband, Torvald, to provide Mrs. Linde employment. But Krogstad, who works at Torvald's bank, threatens this possibility.

Nora's life becomes tragically bound after Torvald is so embarrassed by Krogstad’s presumptuous familiarity at the bank that he plans to fire him. For he fears association with a man who has committed forgery and has a bad reputation. Unfortunately for Nora, Krogstad threatens to expose Nora for her crime of forging her father's signature years ago unless she intervenes for him.

Torvald does not know that Nora has committed forgery herself because she signed her father's name on a loan so that her husband could go to Italy where he could regain his endangered health. Nora finds herself in an unfortunate position because her husband does not know of her forgery, so she cannot tell him that Krogstad tries to blackmail her. When she tries to plead for Krogstad, her husband refuses to hear her.

After he learns of Nora's forgery, her husband reviles her. When he displays no appreciation for the fact that she saved his life by getting him to Italy and its sunny climate when he was so ill, Nora understands the tragedy of her life. She tells Torvald the following:

"Our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa's doll-child" (3.286)

After this statement, Nora declares that she must leave her home if she is ever to find herself.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it depends in large part as to what you are going to write about concerning the play.  In my opinion, I think that a good topic would be to write about Nora.  While the characters in the play are very strong, Nora seems to hold the most interest for me.  You could take several approaches to writing about Nora.  One idea to write upon might be that Nora represents a rejection of the traditionalist notion of women.  You could write about a very nice comparison to how Nora was at the start of the play and how she was at the end of it.  Another topic area could be focused on societal treatment of women, examining how the different men view and treat Nora and analyzing her response to these views.  The strength of your thesis is going to be dependent on what you feel is the most compelling part of the play, the part where you can find the most evidence from the text to prove your point.  Find this, and you have your thesis.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Your thesis should be an idea you believe is true, one you can explain and support with evidence from the play. In coming up with a strong thesis, ask yourself these questions:

Based on my reading, what do I think is true about Nora? About Torvald?)

What do I think is true about the society in the play?

What do I think is the main point or message of the play?

What do I think is the most important conflict in the play?

When you have an answer to any of these questions that you can explain and support with facts, examples, and passages from the play, you will then have a good thesis for your paper.

The enotes links below will take you to some excellent information and analyses in regard to the play. They might help you focus your thinking. Good luck!

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A Doll's House

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