K-12EducatorsLearnersEnglish Language Arts and LiteracyThe Arts

Realism: A Doll’s House

This reader’s theater performance presents a scene from A Doll’s House, written in 1879. The play, by Henrik Ibsen, is a scathing criticism of the traditional roles of men and women in Victorian marriage. The main character is a woman named Nora. Just before the scene opens, a former employee of her husband, Torvald Helmer, has threatened to blackmail Nora. The blackmail attempt stems from Krogstad’s knowledge that Nora forged a loan application to pay for a trip. In the scene, Torvald affectionately treats Nora like a plaything, and their home is “a doll’s house.” It is clear that he does not understand why Nora is nervous and preoccupied. It is also clear that Nora sees why she cannot tell Torvald about her predicament. By the play’s end, Torvald has learned Nora’s secret. Although he forgives her, Nora realizes that he is not the noble creature she has supposed him to be.

Classroom activities and discussion questions available on PBS LearningMedia.

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