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A Doll’s House

Henrik Ibsen
Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  A Doll’s House

author  Henrik Ibsen

type of work  Play

genre  Realistic, modern prose drama

language  Norwegian

time and place written  1879, Rome and Amalfi, Italy

date of first publication  1879

tone  Serious, intense, somber

setting (time)  Presumably around the late 1870s

setting (place)  Norway

protagonist  Nora Helmer

major conflict  Nora’s struggle with Krogstad, who threatens to tell her husband about her past crime, incites Nora’s journey of self-discovery and provides much of the play’s dramatic suspense. Nora’s primary struggle, however, is against the selfish, stifling, and oppressive attitudes of her husband, Torvald, and of the society that he represents.

rising action  Nora’s first conversation with Mrs. Linde; Krogstad’s visit and blackmailing of Nora; Krogstad’s delivery of the letter that later exposes Nora.

climax  Torvald reads Krogstad’s letter and erupts angrily.

falling action  Nora’s realization that Torvald is devoted not to her but to the idea of her as someone who depends on him; her decision to abandon him to find independence.

themes  The sacrificial role of women; parental and filial obligations; the unreliability of appearances

motifs  Nora’s definition of freedom; letters

symbols  The Christmas tree; New Year’s Day

foreshadowing  Nora’s eating of macaroons against Torvald’s wishes foreshadows her later rebellion against Torvald.