Ibsen A Doll’s House

Length Requirement: 1875-2000 words (1875 minimum, approximately 5-6 pages)

 

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Source Requirement:

  • In addition to A Doll House, find at least two sources of literary criticism  that help you develop your essay response.
  • Use the ARC Library databases to find your sources. The best sources for literary criticism are usually scholarly journals or books found via the Library databases.
  • If you’re not sure how to find sources through the library databases (which are available on the ARC Library home page), contact a librarian to ask for help.  You can reach them by email or chat on the home page: https://arc.losrios.edu/student-resources/library
  • When searching on the databases, a key phrase to try is:

“Ibsen A Doll’s House,” and then you can try adding in other words to help you filter, depending on the topic you choose (below).  For example, if you type in “Ibsen A Doll’s House,” filter for scholarly journal articles, and then try adding another key word, such as “feminism,” “heroic”, “Nora,” “Kristine,” “children,” “Torvald,” et cetera, you may be able to find sources more focused on the topic you’ve chosen. Experimenting with key words to help you refine your searches is an important part of locating good sources.  Librarians are experts at this, so don’t hesitate to ask for assistance.

  •  I’ve also included a few sources you can use in the Doll’s House module on the  Canvas  modules page, but if you use one or more of those provided sources, you will need to locate at least one more source through the databases (for a total of at least two sources cited in your paper and listed on your works cited page.
  • Cite and document both sources, as well as the play in your paper.

 

Tips about Writing Style and Organization:

  • An explicit thesis statement, included in the introduction, is recommended.
  • Be sure your body paragraphs contain clear points that support the thesis.
  • Include quotes and references to the literature and other sources to support your points.
  • Follow MLA style format and documentation.

 

Choose one of the following topics based on A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen:

  1. Consider the character of Torvald Helmer. Is Torvald an antagonist? A misogynist?  Or could Torvald be just as much a victim of 19th century societal norms as Nora is?  Is he awakened to the reality of his “doll house” at the end of the play?  Is his hope for a great miracle realistic?
  2. To what extent is Nora’s transformation in Act Three convincing and believable? If it is convincing, what seeds for it did you see earlier in the play?  What caused her apparently sudden ability to defend herself and see reality so clearly?
  3. Is Nora heroic in any sense of the word? If so, has she suffered a tragedy?  Is she a victim or has she brought her suffering upon herself?  Does she redeem herself at the end?  If so, how does that redemption reveal itself?  Is her decision to walk away from her family and children justified?
  1. Feminists are often bothered by the reconciliation between Kristine and Krogstad. Just as Nora is breaking free of the confines of her marriage, Kristine is embracing marriage. Do you agree with some feminist critics that Kristine’s decision to reunite with Krogstad negates Nora’s flight to personal freedom? Investigate the role of women in late nineteenth-century marriage and compare the two different ways that Nora and Kristine seek to define their identity within the social convention of marital life.
  2. Many people were outraged that Nora would leave her husband and children at the end of A Doll House. In fact, some early versions of the play have her going into the children’s room at the last minute and deciding to stay. Which ending do you think is the more effective one, from a dramatic/literary standpoint, and why? Be sure to refer to the main themes of the play and to keep in mind Nora’s and Torvald’s characters.
  3. A major symbolic pattern in the play is Nora and Torvald’s incessant need to hide, suggesting on a larger level the Victorian middle class’s wish to hide from the ugliness and the harsh realities or capitalistic society. Examine the varieties of hiding in the play (evasion, disguise, lies) and discuss how and why the Helmers try to maintain their “charmed life.”

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