A Doll’s House Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)A Doll’s House
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)
Torvald Helmer – He is a lawyer who has
been promoted to manager in the bank.
Nora – She is Torvald’s wife who is treated
like a child by Torvald’s but leaves in the end because of it.
Krogstad – He is the man Nora borrowed
money from to pay for the trip to Italy.
Dr. Rank – He is an admirer of Nora who
has spinal TB and announces his death at the end of the play.
Christine Linde – She is an old friend
of Nora who comes to Nora and asks her to ask her husband for a job.
The children – Nora plays with her children
and treats them like dolls.
Helmer’s Apartment – The entire play takes
place at the apartment
Torvald’s study – a door leads from the
stage into an imaginary room which is Torvald’s study where some off-stage
action takes place.
Ballroom – This is where Nora danced the
The story starts on Christmas eve.
Nora makes preparation for Christmas. While she eats macaroons, Dr.
Rank and Mrs. Linde enters. Rank goes to speak with Torvald while
Linde speaks with Nora. Linde explains that her husband has died
and that she needs to find a job. Nora agrees to ask her husband
to give Linde a job at the bank. Nora tells her about borrowing money
to pay for the trip to Italy for her and her husband. She explains
that Torvald doesn’t know that she paid for it. Rank leaves the study
and begins to speak with Nora and Linde. He complains about the moral
corruption in society. Krogstad arrives and goes to the study to
talk to Torvald about keeping his job. A few minutes later, he leaves
and Rank comments that Krogstad is one of the most morally corrupt people
in the world. Rank and Linde leaves and Krogstad reenters.
He tells Nora to ask her husband to keep Krogstad, or else he will reveal
Nora’s crime of forgery. Krogstad leaves and when Torvald reenters,
Nora asks him not to fire Krogstad. Torvald says that he must fire
him because of his dishonesty and because he gave Krogstad’s job to Linde.
Torvald returns to his study. The Nurse, Anne-Marie, enters and gives
Nora her ball gown. Anne-Marie explains that she had to leave her
children to take the job taking care of Nora. Anne-Marie leaves.
Linde returns and begins to help Nora with stitching up her dress.
They talk for a while about Dr. Rank. Torvald enters and Linde leaves
to the nursery. Nora asks Torvald again not to fire Krogstad and
Torvald refuses. He gives Krogstad’s pink slip to the maid to be
mailed to Krogstad. Torvald leaves to his study. Rank enters
and tells Nora about his worsening illness. They talk and flirt for
a while. Rank tells Nora that he loves her. Nora said that
she never loved Rank and only had fun with him. Rank leaves to the
study and Krogstad enters. He is angry about his dismissal and leaves
a letter to Torvald explaining Nora’s entire crime in the letter box.
Nora is frightened. Nora tells Linde about the matter and Linde assures
her that she will talk to Krogstad and set things straight. Linde
leaves after Krogstad and Rank and Torvald enter from the study.
They help Nora practice the tarantella. After practice, Rank and
Torvald exists. Linde enters and tells Nora that Krogstad left town,
but she left a note for him. Nora tells her that she’s waiting for
a miracle to happen. That night, during the dance, Linde talks to
Krogstad in Helmer’s apartment. She explains to him that she left
him for money, but that she still loves him. They get back together
and Krogstad decides to forget about the whole matter of Nora’s borrowing
money. However, Linde asks Krogstad not to ask for his letter back
since she thinks Torvald needs to know of it. Both leave and Torvald
and Nora enter from the dance. Torvald checks his letter box and
finds some letters and two Business cards from Dr. Rank with black crosses
on them. Nora explains that they mean that Rank is announcing his
death. After the bad news, Torvald enters his study and Nora prepares
to leave. However, before she can get out the door, she is stopped
by Torvald who read Krogstad’s letter. He is angry and disavows his
love for Nora. The maid comes with a letter. Torvald read the
letter which is from Krogstad. It says that he forgives Nora of her
crime and will not reveal it. Torvald burns the letter along with
the IOU that came with it. He is happy and tells Nora that everything
will return to normal. Nora changes and returns to talk with Helmer.
She tells him that they don’t understand each other and she leaves him.
black hat and black cross – symbolizes
Fisher girl costume – symbolizes Nora’s
pretending to enjoy her life.
Italy – symbolizes the good false image
of Nora’s life.
Norway – symbolizes reality.
Doll House – symbolizes the tendency of
the characters to play roles.
Toys – symbolizes the act of pushing the
roles onto Nora’s children.
Macaroons – symbolizes Nora’s deceit to
Tarantella – symbolizes Nora’s agitation
at her struggle with Krogstad and with her husband.
Christmas tree – symbolizes the mood of
Stockings – symbolizes Nora’s attitude
trying to please men and her flirting with Rank.
Letter box and letter – symbolizes a trap
for Nora and the cause of her demise.
embroidery – symbolizes the stereotypes
pressed on woman.
ring – symbolizes the marriage, and the
end of it.
skylark – symbolizes the way that Torvald
treats Nora like a child.
Ibsen writes typical of the ways that the
characters might talk in relation to their position and their relationship
with each other. For example, the way that Torvald speaks with Nora
shows that he condescends to her and that Nora enjoys it. Krogstad
speaks sternly but softens up when Linde tell him she still loves him.
A person can’t be happy when falling into
the mold of someone else. To be happy, one must be oneself and know
oneself. Since all of Nora’s life, she followed right behind her
father and her husband, she did not know herself and had to leave to learn.
“HELMER: My little songbird mustn’t
droop her wings. What’s this? Is little squirrel sulking?”
Torvald asks this to Nora after she returned from shopping at the start
of the play.
“NORA: I’ve the most extraordinary
longing to say: ?Bloody hell!'” Nora says this to Rank and Linde
expressing her desire to rebel against her husband.
“RANK: Oh, a lawyer fellow called
Krogstad – you wouldn’t know him. He’s crippled all right; morally
twisted. But even he started of by announcing, as thought it were
a matter of enormous importance, that he had to live.” Rank tells
this to Nora and Linde expressing his philosophy about morally corrupt
people corrupting society using Krogstad as an example.
“NORA: Never see him again.
Never. Never. Never. Never see the children again.
Them too. Never. never. Oh – the icy black water! Oh
– that bottomless – that -! Oh, if only it were all over! Now
he’s got it – he’s reading it. Oh, no, no! Not yet! Goodbye,
Torvald! Goodbye, my darlings.” Nora says this to herself when
Torvald had left to his study to read the mail. She prepares to leave
and possibly commit suicide.