A Doll's House

Definition

Theater

  • Henrik Ibsen's classic drama about a woman driven to leaveher husband to seek fulfilment; it was first produced in 1879 at Copenhagen'sRoyal Theatre. Shaw, writing in 1897, saw the play's final scene asrepresenting the end of the old sexual order: "the slam of thedoor behind her is more momentous than the cannon of Waterloo."

    The plot concerns Nora Helmer, a young wife and mother, whohas secretly forged the signature of her husband, Torvald, to helphim in his financial troubles. Nils Krogstad, a man her husband hadsacked, threatens to expose Nora unless he is reinstated. When sheinforms Torvald of her deed he is horrified and only forgives herwhen Krogstad backs down. Nora, however, cannot forgive his lack ofsupport; realizing that she has been nothing to her husband but anamusing doll, she leaves him and sets off for a new independent life.At the first German production in 1880, the actress Hedwig Niemann-Raaberefused to perform the final scene, and Ibsen quickly wrote a happyending in which the wife remains at home, sinking to the floor ofher children's bedroom as the curtain falls.

    The Austrian feminist writer Elfriede Jelinek (1946 - )continued the story in her play What Happened after Nora Left herHusband (1978).

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