A Doll's House Questions and Answers
by Henrik Ibsen

A Doll's House book cover
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What is the main idea of the play A Doll's House?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I second the idea of freedom and identity.  Nora is being suppressed and in a world which encourages the woman to just shut up and take it, she rebels.  Had her husband respected her and given her a little wiggle room, the marriage would have been a lot more productive and healthy.

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Kristy Wooten eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Another main focus is being true to oneself.  Nora is not able to be her true self in her own home.  She is oppressed and her needs and desires neglected by her husband.  She is forced to hide things from her husband.  She finally can take no more and decides to leave.

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Edith Sykes eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think that the main idea in A Doll's House, which centers around Nora, is about independence.  Nora has an oppressive husband who thinks of her as a child.  The theme draws attention to how capable women are in their own right.  Nora, has successfully borrowed money to help her sick husband, she has kept this a secret from him.  She realizes that at the end of the book, she must go out on her own, alone, without her children.

The courage of women in this period to prove, in the presence of enormous prejudice against a woman's right to individuality of thought, that they are capable individuals separate and distinct from their husbands, brothers or fathers.

Women are viable citizens who can make valuable contributions to society, they do not have to be protected and cared for by men all their lives.    

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gbeatty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The main idea is the possibility of a woman (and especially a daughter, mother, and wife) being accepted as an equal by the men in her life.


As Nora explains in the last act, throughout her entire life, she's been under male control. She went from her father's house to Torvald's house. She's always kept her mind hidden and played the charming little girl for male approval. The main time that she acts with independent focus, she signs a document that it is not legal for her to sign, in order to save her husband. Rather than being grateful, he's abusive, and this wakes her to the need to be independent.

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mathebula | Student

I think the main idea about the play is women's sacrifices. Kristine sacrificed his relationship with her true lover "Krogstad" and mary a rich man to support her sick mother and younger brothers. the maid "Helene" sacrificed her relationship with her child to go and find a job so that she can put bread on the table. Nora at the end of the play she is sacrificing her marriage [children and husband] for her freedom and not to ignit her life behaviour to her children. 

tmcdermott | Student

I believe that the main idea for this play is that a person must become someone of their own identity, that in life we form ourself around the ideas and persons of the people around us and thus lose ourselves once this reality is seen a person will either try to find themself or will go a long with the idea of it. Nora, was tired of it and wanted to be her own self, kristine had made this connection long before nora and thus became an adult way before her. Torvald believed that to be popular and to be respected he must have money, power, and assets: he conformed to society and thus made himself a person not of his own free will.

jordank23 | Student

I think the main idea or theme in A Doll's House is self-discovery. Nora realized that she was living a strangers life after being let down by Torvald. This discovery shemakes ultimately decides the outcome of the play. Torvald also has a self-realization at the end of the play. The control freak side of Torvald is silenced when Nora drops the bomb that she is leaving him for good. His "little bird" is flying away from him and he cannot control it. Inside, he's realizing that he is not as strong as he thinks. Kristine also is an example of self-discovery. She decides to be with Krogstad and carry out their life together after she realizes that she does not have much life to be lived.

kempf54321 | Student

The main idea of 'A Doll's House' has two things that tie into each other. The first being women's independence because when Nora makes the decision to leave Torvald behind this was a culture shock for couples living during the time this play was written and performed. It made men realize that just because they are MEN does not mean that they possess all of the power in the relationship. Women craved equalness with their significant other, they did not want to be shut down and powerless. The second thing that contributed to the main idea of the play is the thought that one must go and find themselves before he/she can be anything to anyone. Nora eventually realized that the life she was living was not the life that she had hoped for. I do not believe that there is a specific 'ah-ha!' moment where a person just knows who they truly are, but there has to be a realization or comforting feeling that overcomes them. In this moment, that person just knows that this is the person they were created to be, and this is the life that he/she was meant to live.

molly311 | Student

The main idea and objective of Isben is to make people realize that women deserve independence. He understood that women were not treated equally or fairly, and they were being taken advantage of by the men in their lives. Nora represents the everyday trophy wife of that time who needed change in her life. The human spirit, man or woman, cannnot be held down for that long. Eventually, it will find a way out. This is exactly what Nora exemplified.

bookworm-dg | Student

Nora lived in a time where rebellion from women went against the norm. You can tell this from the way she behaves in the beginning. She keeps trying to please her husband and is practically a 'servant' to him. As the play progresses, she sees that its not the way things should be and snaps. The fact that she leaves her husband and her children would be a scandal. That's why when they filmed the play, the ending was rewritten to avoid an outburst from the public. However, I think that if the ending had been left as it was, women might have gained their rights earlier, especially because of the media.