Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House is a realist work in many ways. The overall situation deals with the kinds of problems that people actually have, and the interactions between the characters are expressed through dialogue that closely approximates actual conversations. The set is also intended to look like the interior of a real, middle-class house. Ibsen provides a detailed description of the Helmers’ living room in the stage directions at the beginning of act 1. He mentions specific features of the room’s appearance, including the furnishings, the piano, and engravings on the wall.
The initial conversation between Nora and Torvald Helmer fits well within realist conventions. They are arguing about money, specifically the expenses for Christmas, and the husband accuses his wife of being extravagant while she wheedles him to be more generous. The reader or audience can also see the tension in their marriage, as he speaks to her in a patronizing, gender-biased way. The Christmas expenditures are put into perspective as Nora details each gift she has purchased for numerous, distinct individuals.
The second act continues the idea of realist representation. Nora and her old school friend Christine have a frank conversation, confiding in each other. Nora’s personality is shown to be different in her friend’s company than when she is speaking with her husband. The difficulties in Christine’s life are the kind that women in that day would actually have had, as her husband’s death has left her a penniless widow.