Study questions and Discussion about A doll’s house

Act 1

Why does the play begin with a detailed description of their home?

It shows their socioeconomic status and the description is also useful because this is a drama that is used in the theatre.

How would you describe the relation between Helmer and Nora?

Nora is “doll-like”. Helmer has the power and likes to control her. It is clear that the author, Ibsen, doesn’t like this relationship.

Nora has small secrets. Ibsen tries to give the reader (viewer) the feeling that Nora is hiding something more important. In the beginning her secrets seem to be unimportant. Let’s look at one example in the beginning:

“Helmer (wagging his finger at her). Hasn’t Miss Sweet Tooth
been breaking rules in town today?
Nora. No; what makes you think that?
Helmer. Hasn’t she paid a visit to the confectioner’s?
Nora. No, I assure you, Torvald—”

Ibsen later shows that her secrets a bigger: She didn’t tell Helmer that she borrowed money. And of course she didn’t tell that she is in love with Dr. Rank.

Who is Linde, and why is she visiting Nora?

Linde is an old friend. She needs a job. She knows that Helmer can help because he is going to get a leader position.

Later in the play we find out that Linde and Krogstad have known each other earlier and they were in love. But Linde didn’t choose Krogstad because he was too poor. Line had a good reason to choose a richer man: She had to be able to help her sick mother and two younger brothers:

This is from a conversation early in the play:

“Nora: You mustn’t be angry with me.
Tell me, is it really true that you did not love your husband?
Why did you marry him?
Mrs. Linde. My mother was alive then, and was bedridden
and helpless, and I had to provide for my two younger brothers;
so I did not think I was justified in refusing his offer.”

Linde also gives this explanation to Krogstad later in the play.

It is also interesting to notice Nora’s questions: “is it really true that you did not love your husband?” and “Why did you marry him?” – This interest is of course a reflection of Nora’s own life.

Why does Nora pretend that she doesn’t know Krogstad?

She borrowed some money from him (to be able to pay for a trip to Italy that saved Helmer’s life).

Act 3

Where is Nora going in the end of the play?

The ending is ambiguous. We don’t know for shure where she’s going.

When Nora says to Helmer that she’s going to leave him, Helmer asks “Where would you go?”, and she says “Maybe I could go to mrs Linde”.

But it’s clear that Nora has feelings for Dr. Rank who is going to die soon. So maybe Nora is going to visit him before he dies.

I strongly recommend these pages about “A Doll’s House”:
Norwegian page about the play – National Library of Norway