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A Doll's House

Lesson 2

Objective

Analyze how Ibsen further characterizes Nora.

Track the development of the motif of disease.

Readings and Materials

  • Play: A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen  — pp. 6-18

  • Book: Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen 

Target Task

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Multiple Choice

Nora’s statement at the top of p. 7, “So you are…three lovely children,” primarily serves to

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Writing Prompt

Describe the ways in which the character of Mrs. L helps the audience to better understand Nora. Use evidence from the text to support your answer.

Key Questions

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  • Who is Christine (Mrs. L)? What do we learn about her in pp. 6 and 7?
  • What does her interaction with Christine on p. 7 reveal about Nora’s character?
  • Where did Nora get the money she used to pay for her trip with Helmer? What was her motivation for borrowing it?
  • Track Ibsen’s building of dramatic irony on pp. 8–12. Describe the impact of the audience knowing what Helmer does not.
  • Why does Nora withhold this information from Helmer? Why does she choose to tell her friend? What do you think of her decisions? Why?
  • How does the conversation between Nora and Christine help to complexify Nora as a character? In what ways does Christine serve as a foil for Nora? What positive and negative traits of Nora does she serve to highlight?
  • Both women have experience making sacrifices for money. Explain.
  • Who comes to the door on p. 14? Describe how the two women react to his arrival.
  • Track the development of the motif of disease—both physical and moral.
  • What impact does Ibsen’s decision to write in realistic prose, rather than verse, have on the audience?

Notes

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In his writing of this play, Ibsen is essentially creating a new genre of dramatic realism. In order to highlight how this play is different from the typical play of his era (and even from his own earlier works), we suggest students read an excerpt from Peer Gynt. This play, also by Ibsen, is written in verse form, which was typical of plays up until the late nineteenth century when Ibsen broke away from this form.