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Points to Ponder

What, exactly, is the power dynamic of this marriage? It is important to realize that although Nora is completely dependent upon Helmer, she does exercise a limited kind of power over him. She is not entirely helpless, though he likes to believe that she is. Another, related question is, To what extent is Nora complicit in her own oppression? I have already suggested some answers to these questions in the "Main Characters" section.

Ibsen has been called the father of modern realist drama, and A Doll's House has figured centrally in that designation. At the time Ibsen wrote, the theater was dominated by two kinds of play: historical romances, and the "well-made play" (a contrived melodrama or comedy of manners involving lots of coincidences and implausible plot twists). With A Doll's House, Ibsen offered something different. The play dealt with a contemporary social problem using natural dialogue, believable characters, and a familiar setting. It seemed to tap into ordinary human experience and the springs of action that lie hidden beneath the surface of society. It asked serious, relevant questions but refrained from imposing any ready-made answers. In what other ways is this a realist play? In what ways is it not?

How do Krogstad and Christine function in the play? It is often noted that their fortunes as a couple move in the opposite direction as the Helmers': They come together, the Helmers split apart. What is it about these characters or their histories that causes them, unlike the Helmers, to find happiness and salvation in the end? Remember that, although Krogstad seems a villain for trying to blackmail Nora, it is Christine who finally and deliberately causes the secret to come out.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Act 1, Part 1
Act 1, Part 2
Act 2, Part 1
Act 2, Part 2
Act 3, Part 1
Act 3, Part 2
Act 3, Part 3


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