Is Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House historical or contemporary?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator


Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House was very much a historical play set in a historical time period. Ibsen's play was published in 1879 and first performed in Copenhagen, Norway on December 4, 1879. However, Ibsen's play differs drastically from his own contemporaries' in the issues it presents. Ibsen is considered the "father of modern drama" because he introduced using theatre to disclose contemporary social problems (eNotes, A Doll's House: Introduction). Prior to A Doll's House, all plays were either romances or comedies (eNotes, A Doll's House: Introduction).

A Doll's House is a realistic presentation of social injustices women in Norwegian middle-class society, like Nora, faced. During Ibsen's time period, the poorer women of society were given certain freedoms, or protections, particularly the right to work in low-income jobs, such as domestic services, clerical services, and teaching (eNotes, A Doll's House: Historical Context). However, women like Nora could only be provided for through marriage, and marriage created a loss of liberty. Husbands like Torvald refused to treat their wives as individuals, rather they saw them as personal property.