“A Doll’s House” is the story of a family that seems perfect on the outside. Helmer is a successful lawyer. Nora, his dutiful wife. Their three nameless children. They are all preparing for Christmas when things start to come undone. Through dramatic irony we learn that Nora has a secret she’s kept from her husband and only two other people are aware of this secret. While her secret has helped her husband be the success he is, at the end of the day, it could also be the thing that undoes him. Once the secret and the conflict comes to a head, Nora feels a greater sense of autonomy and is faced with a difficult choice.
I was aware of “A Doll’s House” but never made it a priority to read it. I recently visited a Norwegian friend who teaches Norwegian literature and this play came up. After discussing the themes, characters, and conflicts in the play, I decided it was time to read it. I’m a fan of modern literature because I tend to like the melancholia that tends to taint the literature from 1890’s to 1940’s. This was certainly true of this play. I was not prepared for the end of the play but I was interested in the development of Nora’s character.
This is a good play for groups to read. There’s a central question that pervades the play that Ibsen doesn’t blatantly answer by the play’s end. I like literature that lends itself to a discussion, that doesn’t have a nice closed ending.