A Doll's House

A Doll's House

Overview
A Doll's House is a three-act play in prose
Prose
Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure...

 by the Norwegian
Norwegians
Norwegians constitute both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway. They share a common culture and speak the Norwegian language. Norwegian people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in United States, Canada and Brazil.-History:Towards the end of the 3rd...

 playwright Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of prose drama" and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre...

. It premièred at the Royal Theatre
Royal Danish Theatre
The Royal Danish Theatre is both the national Danish performing arts institution and a name used to refer to its old purpose-built venue from 1874 located on Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen. The theatre was founded in 1748, first serving as the theatre of the king, and then as the theatre of the...

 in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

, Denmark, on 21 December 1879, having been published earlier that month.

The play was controversial when first published, as it is sharply critical of 19th century marriage norms. Michael Meyer
Michael Meyer
Michael Leverson Meyer was an English translator, biographer, journalist and dramatist.-Life:Meyer was born in London into a timber merchant family of Jewish origin, and studied English at Christ Church College, Oxford. His first translation of a Swedish book was the novel The Long Ships by Frans...

 argues that the play's theme is not women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

, but rather "the need of every individual to find out the kind of person he or she really is and to strive to become that person." In a speech given to the Norwegian Women's Rights League in 1898, Ibsen insisted that he "must disclaim the honor of having consciously worked for the women's rights movement," since he wrote "without any conscious thought of making propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

," his task having been "the description of humanity." The Swedish playwright August Strindberg
August Strindberg
Johan August Strindberg was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter. A prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experience, Strindberg's career spanned four decades, during which time he wrote over 60 plays and more than 30 works of fiction, autobiography,...

 attacked the play in his volume of short stories Getting Married (1884).

UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 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.

A Doll's House opens as Nora Helmer returns from Christmas shopping.
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Encyclopedia
A Doll's House is a three-act play in prose
Prose
Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure...

 by the Norwegian
Norwegians
Norwegians constitute both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway. They share a common culture and speak the Norwegian language. Norwegian people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in United States, Canada and Brazil.-History:Towards the end of the 3rd...

 playwright Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of prose drama" and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre...

. It premièred at the Royal Theatre
Royal Danish Theatre
The Royal Danish Theatre is both the national Danish performing arts institution and a name used to refer to its old purpose-built venue from 1874 located on Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen. The theatre was founded in 1748, first serving as the theatre of the king, and then as the theatre of the...

 in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

, Denmark, on 21 December 1879, having been published earlier that month.

The play was controversial when first published, as it is sharply critical of 19th century marriage norms. Michael Meyer
Michael Meyer
Michael Leverson Meyer was an English translator, biographer, journalist and dramatist.-Life:Meyer was born in London into a timber merchant family of Jewish origin, and studied English at Christ Church College, Oxford. His first translation of a Swedish book was the novel The Long Ships by Frans...

 argues that the play's theme is not women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

, but rather "the need of every individual to find out the kind of person he or she really is and to strive to become that person." In a speech given to the Norwegian Women's Rights League in 1898, Ibsen insisted that he "must disclaim the honor of having consciously worked for the women's rights movement," since he wrote "without any conscious thought of making propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

," his task having been "the description of humanity." The Swedish playwright August Strindberg
August Strindberg
Johan August Strindberg was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter. A prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experience, Strindberg's career spanned four decades, during which time he wrote over 60 plays and more than 30 works of fiction, autobiography,...

 attacked the play in his volume of short stories Getting Married (1884).

UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 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.

Act one


A Doll's House opens as Nora Helmer returns from Christmas shopping. Her husband Torvald comes out of his study to banter with her. They discuss how their finances will improve now that Torvald has a new job as a bank manager. Torvald expresses his horror of debt. Nora behaves childishly and he enjoys treating her like a child to be instructed and indulged.

Soon an old friend of Nora's, Kristine Linde, arrives. She is a childless widow who is moving back to the city. Her husband left her no money, so she has tried different kinds of work, and now hopes to find some work that is not too strenuous. Nora confides to Kristine that she once secretly borrowed money from a disgraced lawyer, Nils Krogstad, to save Torvald's life when he was very ill, but she has not told him in order to protect his pride. She told everyone that the money came from her father, who died at about the same time. She has been repaying the debt from her housekeeping budget, and also from some work she got copying papers by hand, which she did secretly in her room, and took pride in her ability to earn money "as if she were a man." Torvald's new job promises to finally liberate her from this debt.

Nora asks Torvald to give Kristine a position as a secretary in the bank, and he agrees, as she has experience in bookkeeping. They leave the house together.

Krogstad arrives and tells Nora that he is worried he will be fired. He asks her to help him keep his job and says that he will fight desperately to keep it. Nora is reluctant to commit to helping him, so Krogstad reveals that he knows she committed forgery on the bond
Bond (finance)
In finance, a bond is a debt security, in which the authorized issuer owes the holders a debt and, depending on the terms of the bond, is obliged to pay interest to use and/or to repay the principal at a later date, termed maturity...

 she signed for her loan from him. As a woman, she needed an adult male co-signer, so she said she would have her father do so. However the signature is dated three days after his death, which suggests that it is a forgery. Nora admits that she did forge the signature, so as to spare her dying father further worry about her (she was pregnant, poor, and had a seriously ill husband). Krogstad explains that the forgery betrayed his trust and is also a serious crime. If he told others about it, her reputation would be ruined, as was his after a similar "indiscretion," even though he was never prosecuted. He implies that what he did was in order to provide for his sick wife, who later died.

Act two


Kristine arrives to help Nora repair a dress for a costume party she and Torvald are going to tomorrow. Then Torvald comes home from the bank and Nora pleads with him to reinstate Krogstad at the bank. She claims she is worried that Krogstad will publish libelous articles about Torvald and ruin his career. Torvald dismisses her fears and explains that although Krogstad is a good worker and seems to have turned his life around, he insists on firing him because Krogstad is not deferential enough to him in front of other bank personnel. Torvald goes into his study to do some work.

Next Dr. Rank, a family friend, arrives. Nora talks about asking him for a favor. Then he reveals that he has entered the terminal stage of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 of the spine (a contemporary euphemism for congenital syphilis
Congenital syphilis
Congenital syphilis is syphilis present in utero and at birth, and occurs when a child is born to a mother with secondary syphilis. Untreated syphilis results in a high risk of a bad outcome of pregnancy, including mulberry molars in the fetus. Syphilis can cause miscarriages, premature births,...

), and that he has always been secretly in love with her. Nora tries to deny the first revelation and make light of it, but she is more disturbed by the second. She tries clumsily to tell him that she is not in love with him, but loves him dearly as a friend.

Desperate after being fired by Torvald, Krogstad arrives at the house. Nora gets Dr. Rank to go in to Torvald's study, so he does not see Krogstad. When Krogstad comes in he declares he no longer cares about the remaining balance of Nora's loan, but that he will preserve the associated bond
Bond (finance)
In finance, a bond is a debt security, in which the authorized issuer owes the holders a debt and, depending on the terms of the bond, is obliged to pay interest to use and/or to repay the principal at a later date, termed maturity...

 in order to blackmail Torvald into not only keeping him employed, but giving him a promotion. Nora explains that she has done her best to persuade her husband, but he refuses to change his mind. Krogstad informs Nora that he has written a letter detailing her crime (forging her father's signature of surety
Surety
A surety or guarantee, in finance, is a promise by one party to assume responsibility for the debt obligation of a borrower if that borrower defaults...

 on the bond) and puts it in Torvald's mailbox, which is locked.

Nora tells Kristine of her predicament. Kristine says that she and Krogstad were in love before she married, and promises that she will try to convince him to relent.

Torvald comes in and tries to check his mail, but Nora distracts him by begging him to help her with the dance she has been rehearsing for the costume party, as she is so anxious about performing. She dances so badly and acts so worried that Torvald agrees to spend the whole evening coaching her. When the others go in to dinner, Nora stays behind for a few minutes and contemplates suicide to save her husband from the shame of the revelation of her crime, and more importantly to pre-empt any gallant gesture on his part to save her reputation.

Act three



Kristine tells Krogstad that she only married her husband because she had no other means to support her sick mother and young siblings, and that she has returned to offer him her love again. She believes that he would not have stooped to unethical behavior if he had not been devastated by her abandonment and in dire financial straits. Krogstad is moved and offers to take back his letter to Torvald. However, Kristine decides that Torvald should know the truth for the sake of his and Nora's marriage.

After literally dragging Nora home from the party, Torvald goes to check his mail, but is interrupted by Dr. Rank, who has followed them. Dr. Rank chats for a while so as to convey obliquely to Nora that this is a final goodbye, as he has determined that his death is near, but in general terms so that Torvald does not suspect what he is referring to. Dr. Rank leaves, and Torvald retrieves his letters. As he reads them Nora steels herself to take her life. Torvald confronts her with Krogstad's letter. Enraged, he declares that he is now completely in Krogstad's power—he must yield to Krogstad's demands and keep quiet about the whole affair. He berates Nora, calling her a dishonest and immoral woman and telling her she is unfit to raise their children. He says that from now on their marriage will be only a matter of appearances.

A maid enters, delivering a letter to Nora. Krogstad has returned the incriminating papers, saying that he regrets his actions. Torvald exults that he is saved as he burns the papers. He takes back his harsh words to his wife and tells her that he forgives her. Nora realizes that her husband is not the strong and gallant man she thought he was, and that he truly loves himself more than he does her.

Torvald explains that when a man has forgiven his wife it makes him love her all the more since it reminds him that she is totally dependent on him, like a child. He dismisses Nora's agonized choice made against her conscience for the sake of his health and her years of secret efforts to free them from the ensuing obligations and danger of loss of reputation, while preserving his peace of mind, as a mere mistake that she made owing to her foolishness, one of her most endearing feminine traits.

Nora tells Torvald that she is leaving him to live alone so she can find out who she is and what she believes and decide what to do with her life. She says she has been treated like a doll to play with, first by her father and then by him. Concerned for the family reputation, Torvald insists that she fulfill her duty as a wife and mother, but Nora says that her first duties are to herself, and she cannot be a good mother or wife without learning to be more than a plaything. She reveals that she had expected that he would want to sacrifice his reputation for hers, and that she had planned to kill herself to prevent him from doing so. She now realizes that Torvald is not at all the kind of person she had believed him to be, and that their marriage has been based on mutual fantasies and misunderstanding.

Torvald is unable to comprehend Nora's point of view, since it contradicts all that he had been taught about the female mind throughout his life. Furthermore, he is so narcissistic that it would be impossible for him to bear to understand how he appears to her, as selfish, hypocritical and more concerned with public reputation than with actual morality. Nora leaves her keys and wedding ring and as Torvald breaks down and begins to cry, baffled by what has happened, Nora leaves the house, slamming the door behind herself.

Alternative ending


It was felt by Ibsen's German agent that the original ending would not play well in German theatres; therefore, for the play's German debut, Ibsen was forced to write an alternative ending for it to be considered acceptable. In this ending, Nora is led to her children after having argued with Torvald. Seeing them, she collapses, and the curtain is brought down. Ibsen later called the ending a disgrace to the original play and referred to it as a 'barbaric outrage'.

Writing process and publication


Ibsen started thinking about the play around May 1878, although he did not begin its first draft until a year later, having reflected on the themes and characters in the intervening period (he visualised its protagonist
Protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

, Nora, for instance, as having approached him one day wearing "a blue woolen dress"). He outlined his conception of the play as a "modern tragedy
Tragedy
Tragedy is a form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure. While most cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, tragedy refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of...

" in a note written in Rome on 19 October 1878. "A woman cannot be herself in modern society," he argues, since it is "an exclusively male society, with laws made by men and with prosecutors and judges who assess feminine conduct from a masculine standpoint."

Ibsen sent a fair copy
Foul papers
Foul papers is a term that refers to an author's working drafts, most often applied in the study of the plays of Shakespeare and other dramatists of English Renaissance drama. Once the composition of a play was finished, a transcript or "fair copy" of the foul papers was prepared, by the author or...

 of the completed play to his publisher on 15 September 1879. It was first published in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 on 4 December 1879, in an edition of 8,000 copies that sold out within a month; a second edition of 3,000 copies followed on 4 January 1880 and a third edition of 2,500 was issued on 8 March.

Real-life basis


A Doll's House was based on the life of Laura Kieler (maiden name Laura Smith Petersen). She was a good friend of Ibsen. Much that happened between Nora and Torvald happened to Laura and her husband, Victor, with the most important exception being the forged signature that was the basis of Nora's loan. In real life, when Victor found out about Laura's secret loan, he divorced her and had her committed to an asylum. Two years later, she returned to her husband and children at his urging, and she went on to become a well-known Danish author, living to the age of 83. In the play, Nora left Torvald with head held high, though facing an uncertain future given the limitations women faced in the society of the time. Ibsen wrote A Doll's House at the point when Laura Kieler had been committed to the asylum, and the fate of this friend of the family shook him deeply, perhaps also because Laura had asked him to intervene at a crucial point in the scandal, which he did not feel able or willing to do. Instead, he turned this life situation into an aesthetically shaped, successful drama. Kieler eventually rebounded from the shame of the scandal and had her own successful writing career while remaining discontent with sole recognition as "Ibsen's Nora" years afterwards.

Production history


A Doll's House received its world première on 21 December 1879 at the Royal Theatre
Royal Danish Theatre
The Royal Danish Theatre is both the national Danish performing arts institution and a name used to refer to its old purpose-built venue from 1874 located on Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen. The theatre was founded in 1748, first serving as the theatre of the king, and then as the theatre of the...

 in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

, Denmark, with Betty Hennings as Nora and Emil Poulsen as Torvald. Writing for the Norwegen newspaper Folkets Avis, the critic Erik Bøgh
Erik Bøgh
Erik Bøgh was a Danish journalist, playwright and songwriter. From 1881-1899 he worked at the Royal Danish Theatre. He died in Copenhagen.-References:*This article was initially translated from the Danish Wikipedia....

 admired Ibsen's originality and technical mastery: "Not a single declamatory phrase, no high dramatics, no drop of blood, not even a tear." Every performance of its run was sold out. Another production opened at the Royal Theatre
Royal Dramatic Theatre
The Royal Dramatic Theatre is Sweden's national stage for "spoken drama", founded in 1788. Around one thousand shows are put on annually on the theatre's eight running stages....

 in Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, Sweden, on 8 January 1880, while productions in Christiania
Christiania
-Places:* Christiania or Kristiania, names of Oslo * Freetown Christiania , a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of Copenhagen, Denmark* Christiania Township, Minnesota, a township in Jackson County...

 (with Johanne Juell as Nora and Arnoldus Reimers as Torvald) and Bergen
Bergen
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with a population of as of , . Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Metropolitan Area as defined by Statistics Norway, has a population of as of , ....

 followed shortly after.

In Germany, the actress Hedwig Niemann-Raabe
Hedwig Raabe
Hedwig Raabe , German actress, was born in Magdeburg, and at the age of fourteen was playing in the company of the Thalia theatre, Hamburg....

 refused to perform the play as written, declaring that "I would never leave my children!" Since the playwright's wishes were not protected by copyright
Copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

, Ibsen decided to avoid the danger of being re-written by a lesser dramatist by committing what he called a "barbaric outrage" on his play himself and giving it an alternative ending in which Nora did not leave. A production of this version opened in Flensburg
Flensburg
Flensburg is an independent town in the north of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Flensburg is the centre of the region of Southern Schleswig...

 in February 1880. This version was also played in Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

, Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

, and Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, although, in the wake of protests and a lack of success, Niemann-Raabe eventually restored the original ending. Another production of the original version, some rehearsals of which Ibsen attended, opened on 3 March 1880 at the Residenz Theatre
Residenz Theatre
The Residence Theatre or New Residence Theatre of the Residence in Munich was built from 1950 to 1951 by Karl Hocheder...

 in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

.

The first British production opened on 7 June 1889, starring Janet Achurch
Janet Achurch
Janet Achurch was an English stage actress and actor-manager. She made her London debut in 1883. She played many Shakespearean roles, but is best known as a pioneer of major roles in the works of Ibsen. Perhaps her most notable role was as Nora in A Doll's House...

 as Nora. Achurch played Nora again for a 7-day run in 1897. Soon after its London première, Achurch brought the play to Australia in 1889.

The play made its American première on Broadway at the Palmer's Theatre on 21 December 1889, starring Beatrice Cameron as Nora Helmer.

It was first performed in France in 1894.

Other productions in the United States include one in 1902 starring Minnie Maddern Fiske
Mrs. Fiske
Minnie Maddern Fiske , born as Marie Augusta Davey, but often billed simply as Mrs. Fiske, was one of the leading American actresses of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. She also spearheaded the fight against the Theatrical Syndicate for the sake of artistic freedom...

 and a 1997 production starring Janet McTeer
Janet McTeer
Janet McTeer, OBE is a British actress.-Life and career:McTeer was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom, the daughter of Jean and Alan McTeer...

 (in a critically acclaimed performance) at the Belasco Theater, which received three Tony Awards and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival
The Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival is presented by the Drama Desk, a committee of New York City theatre critics, writers, and editors. It honors the Broadway, off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway, or legitimate not-for-profit theater revival of a production previously staged in New York City.It...

.

A new translation by Zinnie Harris at the Donmar Warehouse
Donmar Warehouse
Donmar Warehouse is a small not-for-profit theatre in the Covent Garden area of London, with a capacity of 251.-About:Under the artistic leadership of Michael Grandage, the theatre has presented some of London’s most memorable award-winning theatrical experiences, as well as garnered critical...

, starring Gillian Anderson
Gillian Anderson
Gillian Leigh Anderson is an American actress.After beginning her career in theatre, Anderson achieved international recognition for her role as Special Agent Dana Scully on the American television series The X-Files. During the show's nine seasons, Anderson won Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen...

, Toby Stephens
Toby Stephens
Toby Stephens is an English stage, television and film actor who has appeared in films in both Hollywood and Bollywood. He is best known for playing megavillain Gustav Graves in the James Bond film Die Another Day , Edward Fairfax Rochester in the BBC television adaptation of Jane Eyre and Philip...

, Anton Lesser
Anton Lesser
Anton Lesser is a British actor. He attended Moseley Grammar School and the University of Liverpool before going to RADA in 1977 where he was awarded the Bancroft Gold Medal as the most promising actor of his year....

, Tara FitzGerald
Tara Fitzgerald
Tara Anne Cassandra Fitzgerald is an English actress who has appeared in feature films, television, radio and the stage....

 and Christopher Eccleston
Christopher Eccleston
Christopher Eccleston is an English stage, film and television actor. His films include Let Him Have It, Shallow Grave, Elizabeth, 28 Days Later, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Others, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra...

 opened in May 2009.

Criticism



A Doll's House criticises the traditional roles of men and women in 19th-century marriage. To many 19th-century Europeans, this was scandalous. Nothing was considered more holy than the covenant of marriage, and to portray it in such a way was completely unacceptable; however, a few more open-minded critics such as the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 found Ibsen's willingness to examine society without prejudice exhilarating. In Germany, the production's lead actress refused to play the part of Nora unless Ibsen changed the ending, which, under pressure, he eventually did. In the alternative ending, Nora gives her husband another chance after he reminds her of her responsibility to their children. This ending proved unpopular and Ibsen later regretted his decision on the matter. Virtually all productions today, however, use the original ending, as do nearly all of the film versions of this play, including Dariush Mehrjui's Sara
Sara (film)
Sara is a 1992 motion picture directed by Dariush Mehrjui. The film is based on Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House, with Sara in the role of Nora, Hesam in the role of Torvald, Sima in the role of Ms Linde and Goshtasb in the role of Nils Krogstad.The movie won the Audience Award at the Nantes...

(the Argentine
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 version, made in 1943 and starring Delia Garcés
Delia Garcés
Delia Garcés was an Argentine film actress of the late 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. She made almost 30 appearances in film between 1937 and 1959.Garcés began her acting career in 1937...

, does not; it also modernizes the story, setting it in the early 1940s).

Because of the radical departure from traditional behavior and theatrical convention involved in Nora's leaving home, her act of slamming the door as she leaves has come to represent the play itself. One critic noted, "That slammed door reverberated across the roof of the world."

Much of the criticism is focused on Nora's self-discovery, but the other characters also have depth and value. The infected Dr. Rank and Nora both suffer from the irresponsibility of their fathers: Dr. Rank for the father who infected his family, Nora for the father she likely married to protect. Dr. Rank's disease becomes a metaphor for the poison infecting the Helmers' marriage and society at large. Mrs. Linde provides the model of a woman who has been forced to fend for and find herself – a self-aware, resourceful woman.

Adaptations


A Doll's House has been adapted for several film releases including two in 1973: one directed by Joseph Losey
Joseph Losey
Joseph Walton Losey was an American theater and film director. After studying in Germany with Bertolt Brecht, Losey returned to the United States, eventually making his way to Hollywood...

, starring Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda is an American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model, and fitness guru. She rose to fame in the 1960s with films such as Barbarella and Cat Ballou. She has won two Academy Awards and received several other movie awards and nominations during more than 50 years as an...

, David Warner
David Warner (actor)
David Warner is an English actor who is known for playing both romantic leads and sinister or villainous characters, both in film and animation...

 and Trevor Howard
Trevor Howard
Trevor Howard , born Trevor Wallace Howard-Smith, was an English film, stage and television actor.-Early life:...

; and one directed by Patrick Garland
Patrick Garland
thumb|right|200pxPatrick Garland is a British actor, writer, and director.Garland started Poetry International in 1963 with Ted Hughes and Charles Osborne. He was a director and producer for the BBC's Music and Arts Department , and worked on its Monitor series...

 with stars Claire Bloom
Claire Bloom
Claire Bloom is an English film and stage actress.-Early life:Bloom was born in the North London suburb of Finchley, the daughter of Elizabeth and Edward Max Blume, who worked in sales...

, Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins
Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins, KBE , best known as Anthony Hopkins, is a Welsh actor of film, stage and television...

, and Ralph Richardson
Ralph Richardson
Sir Ralph David Richardson was an English actor, one of a group of theatrical knights of the mid-20th century who, though more closely associated with the stage, also appeared in several classic films....

. In 1993, David Thacker
David Thacker
David Thacker is an English award-winning theatre director.David Thacker is currently the Artistic Director at the Octagon Theatre Bolton...

 directed, with stars Juliet Stevenson
Juliet Stevenson
Juliet Anne Virginia Stevenson, CBE is an English actor of stage and screen.- Early life :Stevenson was born in Kelvedon, Essex, England, the daughter of Virginia Ruth , a teacher, and Michael Guy Stevenson, an army officer. Stevenson's father was in the army and was posted to a new place every...

, Trevor Eve
Trevor Eve
Trevor John Eve is a British film and television actor. In 1979 he gained fame as the eponymous lead in the detective series Shoestring and is also known for his role as Detective Superintendent Peter Boyd in BBC television drama Waking the Dead.-Early life:Eve was born in Sutton Coldfield,...

 and David Calder
David Calder (actor)
David Calder is a British actor.Calder was born in Portsmouth, England, and trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. His most high profile TV roles include Det. Insp...

. Dariush Mehrjui's 1993 film Sara
Sara (film)
Sara is a 1992 motion picture directed by Dariush Mehrjui. The film is based on Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House, with Sara in the role of Nora, Hesam in the role of Torvald, Sima in the role of Ms Linde and Goshtasb in the role of Nils Krogstad.The movie won the Audience Award at the Nantes...

is based on A Doll's House, with the plot transferred to Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 with Sara, played by Niki Karimi
Niki Karimi
Niki Karimi , born 10 November 1971 in Tehran, is a multi-award–winning Iranian actress and movie director.- Biography :Niki Karimi was born and raised in Tehran. She participated in theatrical work while she was in elementary school. Her hobby of reading and watching movies from an early age...

, is the Nora of Ibsen's play.

A version for American television was made in 1959
A Doll's House (1959 film)
A Doll's House is a 1959 made for television movie, directed by George Schaefer. It is based on Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play A Doll's House.-Cast:* Julie Harris — Nora Helmer* Christopher Plummer — Torvald Helmer* Hume Cronyn — Nils Krogstad...

, directed by George Schaefer
George Schaefer (director)
George Louis Schaefer was a director of television and Broadway theatre from the 1950s to the 1990s.-Life and career:...

 and starring Julie Harris
Julie Harris
Julia Ann "Julie" Harris is an American stage, screen, and television actress. She has won five Tony Awards, three Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award. In 1994, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts. She is a member of the American Theatre Hall of Fame...

, Christopher Plummer
Christopher Plummer
Arthur Christopher Orne Plummer, CC is a Canadian theatre, film and television actor. He made his film debut in 1957's Stage Struck, and notable early film performances include Night of the Generals, The Return of the Pink Panther and The Man Who Would Be King.In a career that spans over five...

, Hume Cronyn
Hume Cronyn
Hume Blake Cronyn, OC was a Canadian actor of stage and screen, who enjoyed a long career, often appearing professionally alongside his second wife, Jessica Tandy.-Early life:...

, Eileen Heckart
Eileen Heckart
Eileen Heckart was an American actress of stage, screen, and television.-Early life:Heckart was born Anna Eileen Heckart in Columbus, Ohio, the daughter of Esther and Leo Herbert. She was legally adopted by her grandfather, J.W. Heckart. Her family was of Irish and German descent...

 and Jason Robards
Jason Robards
Jason Nelson Robards, Jr. was an American actor on stage, and in film and television, and a winner of the Tony Award , two Academy Awards and the Emmy Award...

. A 1974 West German
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 television adaptation, titled Nora Helmer was directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Maria Fassbinder was a German movie director, screenwriter and actor. He is considered one of the most important representatives of the New German Cinema.He maintained a frenetic pace in film-making...

 and starred Margit Carstensen
Margit Carstensen
Margit Carstensen is a German theatre and film actress, best known outside Germany for roles in the works of film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder.-Theater career:...

 in the title role. A 1938 US radio production starred Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford , born Lucille Fay LeSueur, was an American actress in film, television and theatre....

 as Nora and Basil Rathbone
Basil Rathbone
Sir Basil Rathbone, KBE, MC, Kt was an English actor. He rose to prominence in England as a Shakespearean stage actor and went on to appear in over 70 films, primarily costume dramas, swashbucklers, and, occasionally, horror films...

 as Torvald. A later US radio version by the Theatre Guild in 1947 featured Rathbone with Wendy Hiller
Wendy Hiller
Dame Wendy Margaret Hiller DBE was an Academy Award-winning English film and stage actress, who enjoyed a varied acting career that spanned nearly sixty years. The writer Joel Hirschorn, in his 1984 compilation Rating the Movie Stars, described her as "a no-nonsense actress who literally took...

 and Catherine Rowan, his co-star from a contemporary Broadway production.

Sources

  • Brockett, Oscar G. and Franklin J. Hildy. 2003. History of the Theatre. Ninth edition, International edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 978-0-205-41050-7.
  • Dukore, Bernard F., ed. 1974. Dramatic Theory and Criticism: Greeks to Grotowski. Florence, KY: Heinle & Heinle. ISBN 978-0-03-091152-1.
  • Innes, Christopher, ed. 2000. A Sourcebook on Naturalist Theatre. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-15229-7.
  • Meyer, Michael. 1967. Ibsen. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974. ISBN 978-0-14-021772-8.
  • Moi, Toril. 2006. Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism: Art, Theater, Philosophy. Oxford and New York: Oxford UP. ISBN 978-0-19-920259-1.
  • Törnqvist, Egil. 1995. Ibsen, A Doll's House. Plays in Performance ser. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. ISBN 978-0-521-47866-3.
  • Worthen, W. B. 2004. The Wadsworth Anthology of Drama, 6e. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning. 666-691.

Further reading

  • Ibsen, Henrick (trans McLeish). A Doll's House, Nick Hern Books
    Nick Hern Books
    Nick Hern Books is a London-based independent specialist publisher of plays, theatre books and screenplays. The company was founded by the former Methuen drama editor Nick Hern in 1988.-History:...

    , London, 1994
  • Unwin, Stephen. Ibsen's A Doll's House (Page to Stage Study Guide) Nick Hern Books
    Nick Hern Books
    Nick Hern Books is a London-based independent specialist publisher of plays, theatre books and screenplays. The company was founded by the former Methuen drama editor Nick Hern in 1988.-History:...

    , London, 1997
  • William L. Urban. "Parallels in A Doll's House." Festschrift in Honor of Charles Speel. Ed. by Thomas J. Sienkewicz and James E. Betts. Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois, 1997.

External links



  • A Doll's House at the Internet Movie Database
  • A Doll’s House: A Study Guide (alternate edition)
  • The Social Significance of the Modern Drama
    The Social Significance of the Modern Drama
    The Social Significance of the Modern Drama is a 1914 treatise by Emma Goldman on political implications of significant playwrights in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries....

    , a book by Emma Goldman
    Emma Goldman
    Emma Goldman was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century....

    , contains a chapter on A Doll's House.