Realism: A Doll’s House
This reader’s theater segment presents a scene from A Doll’s House,
written in 1879 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Considered the father of realism, Ibsen examined the values and norms of Victorian society, family, and marriage. A Doll’s House
is a scathing criticism of these values and norms as seen in the marriage of Nora and Torvald Helmer. Before this scene, Krogstad, a former employee of Torvald’s, has threatened to blackmail Nora with the knowledge that she forged a loan application to pay for a trip. In the featured scene, we see that Torvald treats Nora like a plaything or a doll and has no idea where her distress and preoccupation stem from. It is also evident from Torvald’s speech that Nora feels she cannot be truthful with him. By the end of the play, Torvald does learn Nora’s secret, and though he forgives her, she sees him for his true self. Director Robert Pickering introduces the scene with contextual information.
- Show as an example of realism.
- Show to initiate a discussion of the purposes of drama/social commentary.
- Use in conjunction with a unit exploring the status of women.
- Have students predict the outcome of the play and write a concluding scene between Nora and Torvald.