A Doll’s House by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, first published in 1879 (as Et dukkehjem), is a seminal work in the realm of theatrical literature. Set in the Helmers’ household in Norway, the three-act play centers around Nora Helmer, a seemingly happy and carefree wife and mother, whose life takes a dramatic turn as long-buried secrets and societal expectations come to light. The plot unfolds against the backdrop of 19th-century Europe, a time when societal norms and gender roles were rigidly defined.

The play explores themes of marriage, gender inequality, and the consequences of imposed social expectations on individual freedom. Nora's journey to self-discovery and her decision to challenge societal norms by confronting her husband Torvald, in the final act, has made A Doll’s House a timeless and provocative piece of literature. The play’s exploration of women’s rights and the societal constraints placed on individuals continues to resonate with audiences, making it a classic that remains relevant to contemporary discussions on gender equality.

When A Doll’s House was first performed in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 1879, its proto-feminist themes caused a sensation, and the play has rarely been out of the spotlight ever since. Over the years, A Doll’s House has been adapted into numerous films, stage productions, and even inspired reinterpretations, solidifying its enduring impact on the world of literature and drama.

Read the free full text, the full play summary, an in-depth character analysis of Nora Helmer, and explanations of important quotes from A Doll’s House.

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