A Doll’s House: Discussion Questions
March 17, 2011
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Hello again, everyone! I know that this was a short text, and that many of you have already written up your thoughts on the play, perhaps long ago (if you haven’t yet, don’t fret: there’s plenty of time before I collect all the links to write-ups and post them at the end of the month). But I, for one, have not yet stopped thinking about it and have a few questions I’ve been working on.
1. The first comes by way of Lauren of Underneath a Book. In comments on my introduction post, she voiced concern about the fact that the character Nora and her experiences were largely based on a woman whom Ibsen knew in real life and the troubles she’d had in her marriage; a woman who was not particularly pleased to have her story appropriated in this way for public consumption. What are the politics of fictionalizing an individual’s story to make a universal point?
2. Throughout most of the play, Torvald treats Nora, his wife, like an overgrown child or a care-free pet, and she does kind of act like one. But by the end we realize that Nora is not the shallow, vapid creature she appears at first to be; she has been, at least in part, consciously playing a role. Why? Has it been to her benefit or her loss?
3. Nora expects that when her husband finds out that she has broken the law to save his life, he will take credit for her actions and she will commit suicide to save his reputation. He surprises her by refusing to do so. Why doesn’t he? What is the relationship between his refusal and the role that he plays in their marriage?
4. Torvald tells Nora, in the end, that “I’d gladly work for you day and night, Nora–go through suffering and want, if need be–but one doesn’t sacrifice one’s honor for love’s sake.” Nora responds by saying that “Millions of women have done so.” This line gave me chills. It was this, above everything else in the play, that resonated with me and felt still too relevant today. What resonated with you?
Please feel free to answer one or all the questions, or to contribute your own!