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December 21, 1879
Naturalistic / Realistic Problem Play, Modern Tragedy
Nora, Torvald Helmer, Krogstad, Mrs. Linde, Dr. Rank, Children, Anne-Marie, Helene
The home of the Helmer family in an unspecified Norwegian town or city, circa 1879
The awakening of a middle-class wife and mother.
21 December 1879, by Henrik Ibsen
The play centres on an ordinary family — Torvald Helmer, a bank lawyer, and his wife, Nora, and their three little children. Into this arrangement intrude several hard-minded outsiders, one of whom threatens to expose a fraud that Nora had once committed without her husband’s knowledge in order to obtain a loan needed to save his life. When Nora’s act is revealed, Torvald reacts with outrage and repudiates her out of concern for his own social reputation. Utterly disillusioned about her husband, whom she now sees as a hollow fraud, Nora declares her independence of him and their children and leaves them.
The main themes of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House revolve around the values and the issues of late 19th-century bourgeoisie, namely what looks appropriate, the value of money, and the way women navigate a landscape that leaves them little room to assert themselves as actual human beings.
Nora Helmer, Torvald Helmer, Dr. Rank, Kristine Linde, Nils Krogstad, The Children (Ivar, Bobby and Emmy), Anne Marie, Helene, The Porter
A Doll's House was based on the life of Laura Kieler (maiden name Laura Smith Petersen), a good friend of Ibsen. Much that happened between Nora and Torvald happened to Laura and her husband, Victor. Similar to the events in the play, Laura signed an illegal loan to save her husband's life – in this case, to find a cure for his tuberculosis.[
The play was a great sensation at the time, and caused a "storm of outraged controversy" that went beyond the theatre to the world of newspapers and society.
In 2006, the centennial of Ibsen's death, A Doll's House held the distinction of being the world's most performed play that year. UNESCO has inscribed Ibsen's autographed manuscripts of A Doll's House on the Memory of the World Register in 2001, in recognition of their historical value.
“You have never loved me. You have only thought it pleasant to be in love with me.”
“You see, there are some people that one loves, and others that perhaps one would rather be with.”
“I must make up my mind which is right – society or I.”
“But no man would sacrifice his honor for the one he loves. It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done.”