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A Doll’s House

Here are discussion questions and a couple of essay prompts. Note that I focus on setting when I
teach this play. We do a great deal on women's issues in Ibsen's time and look at how those are
reflected in the play.

Becci

A Doll House � Discussion questions Act I


1. What is the setting of Act I?
2. What is the motivation for Nora's behavior in this act?
3. How would you characterize Nora?
4. How does Mrs. Linde's arrival in town affect Nora's awakening and transformation?
5. Is Nora still a child, as Mrs. Linde says?
6. Nora/Christine (Act I)�both treasure their experiences of sacrificing for others
("something to be proud and happy about"). What does this say about the role of
women in the society Ibsen is describing?
7. How do Torvald's pet names for Nora help to create both her character and his?
8. How does Christine's marriage show the societal attitudes of the time?
9. What is Nora's secret? Obviously, forging another person's signature is a crime,
but what other factors about Nora's action are problematic?
10. How does Torvald's reaction to Krogstad reflect contemporary attitudes toward
psychiatric theory? Is it a realistic reaction? What effect do Torvald's
pronouncements have on Nora?

A Doll House � Discussion questions Act II


1. How much time has passed between Acts I and II?
2. What is the motivation for Nora's behavior in this act?
3. What is the purpose of the scene between Nora and Anne (the children's nurse)?
4. How does Nora act toward Torvald, especially when she wants something? How
does this reflect societal attitudes of the time toward women?
5. What events and dialogue show that Torvald is primarily concerned with
appearances and his reputation?
6. How does Dr. Rank fit into the story? Why does he not want Torvald to visit him?
7. How does Nora's decision to not ask Rank for money reflect her sense of honor and
her loyalty toward Torvald?
8. What is ironic about Krogstad's plan for "rehabilitating" himself?
9. How is the tarantella symbolic of Nora's struggle?
Put it together: At this point in the play, what would you say are the
societal attitudes, values, and/or customs that Ibsen is criticizing or
commenting on? Are they still valid points in terms of our own
society? Why or why not?

G2E1 � test
A Doll's House
Choose one of the questions below and write an essay of at least 500 words. You may cite your
examples and quotes from the play by simply noting the appropriate page number in parenthesis.

Question 1:
"Conceptually, A Doll's House is the pioneer in dramatic presentation of women
struggling for independence. It is the pinnacle in a small chain of plays stemming from
Euripedes' Medea, to A Doll's House (1879). This chain presents 2300 years of social
convention being dismantled." (William-Alan Landes)

Assess the validity of Landes' statement. Give specific examples of characters, events,
and/or symbols in the play which contribute to this viewpoint.

Question 2:
Sven Birkerts has outlined what he calls three important functions of setting in works of
fiction. Those functions are:
1. establishing the "impression of verisimilitude�that this really happened";
2. situating "us in space and time so that we can understand the events of the story as shaped by its
specific factors"; and
3. enhancing theme, "either through suggestion or through more direct symbolism" (Birkerts 56-
57).

Analyze how Ibsen in A Doll's House uses Birkerts' three functions of setting to attack the
social conventions of the Victorian Era.