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A Doll’s House

Henrik Ibsen

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.