Doll House Summary

Read the following:
The first act (called ACT I, pages 1-32) of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, written in 1879 (so around the same period as Kate Chopin’s work). Ibsen is Norway’s most well-known author. He was a playwright, and his plays, which are set in his native Norway, are still regularly performed around the world today. A Doll’s House is one of his most famous works and has had a lasting impact. Because it’s a play, what you’ll be reading is dialog and stage directions. It’s similar to reading a movie script.
Of course, plays are best experienced at the theater rather than as text, but I’ve found a decent audio book of the play that includes the stage directions (just like the text). It’s not nearly the same thing as seeing a play live, but it will do. Don’t bother seeking a video of a performance. There’s really only one available on YouTube, and it’s a really amateur production that’s not filmed in high quality. I probably wouldn’t like the play too much if that was the first way I experienced it. In fact, I’d probably prefer to just read this one than listen to the audio I’m providing for you so that I could hear the characters in my head, but that’s a personal preference. Do what works best for you. You’re only reading Act 1 this week, so the audio is only for that part. It’s an hour long. I didn’t create my own audio this time because I’d have to perform all the roles, and I’m certainly not an actress!
After completing Act 1 of the play, watch the short video below for some useful background info and then read the introduction (pages 4-7) of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
Respond to the following questions (but PLEASE don’t include any spoilers from Acts 2 or 3 if you’ve read ahead).
• In her introduction, Wollstonecraft (2017) states, “I dismiss those pretty feminine phrases that the men condescendingly use to make our slavish dependence easier for us” (p. 5). What does Wollstonecraft mean by this, and how does it relate to A Doll’s House? Find and quote at least three examples of Torvald Helmer “condescendingly” using “feminine phrases” when talking about his wife, Nora.
• How do you feel about Nora and Torvald’s relationship? What about Nora and Christina’s relationship?
• What is the significance of the forbidden macaroons that Nora likes to eat?
• What does Krogstad threaten Nora with and why? What do you think will ultimately happen to Nora in this story?

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