What is the effect of Ibsen's choise to delay exposition regarding past events until the second episode (the conversation between Nora and Mrs. Linde)?
This play, as a departure from Victorian drama to realism, serves as an example of how treatment of the plot and the mise-en-scene have changed. Before the dramatic attempts by Ibsen, Chekhov, etc. to replicate reality, some artificial stage devices were used. One of these was the “servant’s dialogue,” a staged scene between two servants in a household discussing the state of affairs of the master and mistress of the house—“Well, Jeeves, I see Lord Fauntleroy will be returning from his three-month long African business trip today.” “Yes, Tessa, and you can be sure Mistress Fauntleroy will not want him to discover her indiscretion with the family budget.” This artificial exposition is done away with in Ibsen, especially in Doll’s House, in the interests of real dialogue (and cf. Trifles) that reveals the dramatic problem, which is itself part of the exposition. Nora’s actions to save the Helmer’s household are revealed to the audience at the same time that we learn that confidences of this nature cannot be shared between husband and wife but can be discussed between women. This delayed information gives the play verisimilitude while at the same time it forces the dramatic action and illustrates the main metaphor—Nora has been considered a “doll,” not a whole human being.