A Doll's House IB English SL - Coggle Diagram
A Doll's House IB English SL
Wife of Torvald, mother of 3, saved Torvalds life by forging a bank draft for a trip to Italy.
Moneylender (Krogstad) blackmailing her, as she forged the signature to obtain money
When Tor shows he will allow her to take consequences on her own, leaves him
Portrayed as an 'active' character
Rapidly established as someone with a 'zest' for life, taking pleasure in Xmas tree, enjoying macaroons, physically expressive and plays with her kids.
Admission that she enjoyed talking with servants in her father's house - contrasts with Tors bluster about Krog's use of Xian names.
Nora as actor
The tarantella (dance) shows instincts of being a natural performer - dance allows her to express what cant be said. Suggests that she is coming to realise her role that society has given her - one of performance.
Perky Nora in Act 1 may enjoy game - enjoying power that she has to get money from Tor, but accepts the power will be lost when she is 'no longer pretty'
Conscience or Convention?
Ibsen''s first jottings to the play indicate that he was interested in the idea of 'two kinds of conscience, one for men and one for women'.
Tor is governed by rules of society and Nora follows her heart, argument possible at beginning of play that neither of them have a 'conscience'.
Who is he?
Noras husband, was lawyer now banker
Collapsed from overwork - doesn't know Nora paid for trip, and is terrified of debt.
Also blackmailed by Krogstad, like Nora.
A good match
As far as 19th century husbands go, Tor is a good prospect, as his career is good.
Industriousness is a flaw, as his overworking leads him to becoming sick - thus causing her to withdraw the money.
Money and Obsession
Horror of debt seems neurotic [Act 1, p24] - however quote says that he broods on possibility of going into debt.
Debt anxiety was high in those times - however in spite of this he can be generous
Believes that he loves Nora and says he & her father loved her - furious she ruined his reputation and plans to keep children from her & keep only shell of marriage.
Repeated allusions to songbirds & squirrels together with Nora's promise in Act 2, suggest he shows desire playfully.
Enjoys fantasy of Nora as a new bride, enjoys showing off her beauty - but once she has been admired he has little interest.
Refuses to let Nora talk about her old friends, and when it is revealed that DR is dying, says it is positive, because they 'only have each other'
Who is she?
Old school fried on Nora's - seeking work at the bank.
Once in love with Krog, but left him for rich person who could support her, but is now a penniless widow.
Believes Nora must tell Tor the truth & forces this by refusing to let Krog destroy the forgery.
Her first appearance
Quiet and polite & qualified to work in the bank - designed to be a contrast to Nora - as her life has left a mark - physically frail, telling DR she walked up stairs 'slowly'
Seems that her function is to act as a foil to Nora, with Noras happy marriage & children - not something that she has.
Bringing out the truth
If patronising when making remarks such as 'those bits of fancy-work of yours', she has a right to be. Worked at many jobs, and anyone in her position might covet children & money - even if Nora has to sacrifice money.
Questioning nora about the loan, curiosity is that of a concerned friend - fulfilling the function of a confidante - allowing vital information to emerge. Kindness is apparent in concern for 'the morally sick' (debate with DR.)
Also has stern principles, fears Noras naivety would lead her into a dangerous sexual situation over the loan, imagines is from DR. Angry with DR for taking advantage of Nora - determination to help is strong - maintains Krog 'must' persuade Tor to read the letter.
Truth at all costs
Not a passive victim - owns her experience and person it has made her - this that makes her so determined that there should be 'full understanding' between Nora and Tor/ Helmer
Wants to shake them out of an unhealthy dependency - Nora on ability to form 'tricks' and Helmer on the myth of Noras helplessness.
Who is Krogstad?
employee at helmer's bank, later fired
has a questionable past & acts as a moneylender - owed the price of the holiday.
Reconciled to his former love Kristina
Mirror to Nora
Nora rejects the idea that K resembles her - because she doesn't understand the motive for unselfish forgery.
K has lost respectability in a world run by people like Torvald
By treatment as a criminal, he has been pushed to brink of legality where lies are common.
Blackmailer & Victim
While K hates employer, respects N - carefully explains criminal status without being bitter - remedies ignorance
Compassionate in warning against suicide - quite brutal as N continues to fantasise about heroic sacrifice but also practical pointing out that he will have the paper whether she dies or not.
K loved Kristina in past & says he continues to miss her - takes time to accept she still cares about him - cant fully trust her but doesnt consider himself as someone who is 'loveable'.
tells Kristina 'life has taught me to distrust fine words' -referencing his treatment by Tor - once he knows that he is loved, then he immediately returns N's note.
willing to reach out to who he sees as double (N) - at some self-cost, as it benefits Tor.
Who is he?
Close family friend who often dines with Nora & Tor.
Dying from a hereditary illness and confides this to Nora.
In love with Nora shortly before his death he thanks her for light she brought into his life.
The Role of 'raisonneur'
First sight of DR suggests that his function is that of a
which is a detached observer offering advice to the protagonists but not changing the course of the action.
Role familiar in
often given to a doctor. Dispute with Kristina, complaining that in a society obsessed with caring for the morally sick 'healthy ones just have to lump it' - makes him seem both harsh and flippant.
Only in A2, when Nora mentions his illness, that we realise that DR is speaking of himself as a morally corrupt figure, cut off from life due to moral corruption of his father.
The Inner Man
Only to Nora that Dr explains his bitterness - she is only person who shares playing with language - slip into private codes (sub-text) - sense of being a double act that gives a sense of pleasure.
Humour allows DR to discuss illness, and reflects his belief that 'Laughter's all the damned thing's fit for' - gets no comfort from religion or philosophy.
Value of a sense of belonging - voices a need to keep his place in the household, reminder by Nora - at home 'with us'. DR affection for Tor is real but cleat that he fantasises being married to Nora.
Devotion is rooted in something above desire; and no reason to suspect otherwise - says he would 'lay down his life' for her.
The Individual and Society
Taking Nora for granted
At the beginning she is defined by the others - for Helmer she is a pet, mother, housekeeper & sexual partner - all of these roles are adopted - makes one choice (forging signature) on an impulse, and she imagines that it makes no difference to her unless it is found out.
Work is kind of a play / disguise ('like being a man' A1 P37) & lack of interest in society ('I think it's a bore' A1 P40) - thus means she doesnt join the debate between Kristina & DR for world responsibility.
For many 19th century thinkers - was not a problem for women, with self-defining being a male task, and 'wife' or 'mother' expressed what a woman was born to be as opposed to choices for self definition.
Act 2 shows Nora gaining awareness that choices have implications. Realises that DR can save her - the money would ruin the friendship - instead of mutual affection, there would be a power balance.
Nora's behaviour is morally responsible; contrasting with Helmer, panicking at the sight of Krog's letter. Not honest enough to make a moral choice - instead appeasing - rejects Nora while demanding she acts the roles of wife and mother to be 'respectable'
At the end of the play, Nora can no longer accept Helmer as spokesperson for society - feels that he & they have let her down. As lawyer< Helmer allowed her to remain ignorant of the law- when speaking of religion he says 'your religion'
No longer will allow him to define the roles of wife or mother for her - but plans to learn for self.
Ibsen told actors to avoid 'theatrical accents' and copy the life they saw around them, not other actors - wanted audience to respond to 'Nora' and 'Krogstad' as opposed to 'villain'
Acting In Real Life
When N & H involved in performance - they reveal selves most clearly. Fancy dress party offers chance to 'stage' lives to themselves and make sense of them.
Subject of N's dress & the dance performed in it is recurring throughout the play - H choice of costume shows what he wishes her to be - symbol of his sexual & social status.
H sees N's dance as expression of his talent - similar to story of Pygmalion - sculptor who produced a statue so beautiful he fell in love & it came to life.
However - he forgets some things about the nature of performance - which requires dull backstage work & inspiration. H offended at sight of women working - including ML mending dress.
Performance also a collaborative art - N & DR shape impromptu performance, not H.
Death, Disease and Heredity
'I suppose I must take you as you are. Its in your blood'. [A1 p26] Helmer is convinced Nora's first money request proves she has inherited her father's extravagance. 'No religion, no morals, no sense of duty' [A3, P93] - never wavers from conviction that criminal tendencies can be inherited.
Between theses two statements, we learn that Nora is pretending to be extravagant - money she is wasting is due to the debt, and while father may have been knowingly involved in fraud - crime is ignorance.
Says defiantly 'I wish i had inherited more of papa's qualities' - we dont know the better qualities as Helmer never names them - for him power of inheritance denies possibility of individual change.
Critic Erik Bogh was amazed to see a play 'so simple in action & so everyday in its dress' (Meyer, Ibsen 1985) - did not use word naturalism, because readers would not know it - but the play is an example of this.
Naturalistic playwrights wanted to explore the people of their own time in their own environment - just as sociologists & psychologists did. Thus many theatrical conventions were abandoned.
Instead, they showed human behaviour & its setting in proper context - N is the product of a society that fails to recognise women as equal.
Political & Social Protest
Naturalism appeared in a period of mass upheaval, which is why some writers seized the opportunity to portray STIs, women's rights & slum landlords - implicitly demanding change.
Novelty of seeing a 'real' world as opposed to an artificial one which is backdropped by heightened language & attracted audiences, even if the material could be uncomfortable.
Ibsen remarked after a dinner in honour @ Norwegian Women's Union 'I must decline the honour of deliberately having worked in the interests of the woman-question'
Even if this play does not carry out an outright play for social change, it fulfils a criterion for social protest writing - showing the inequality of power and its results.
The Well-Made Play
Clear basic structure - that of a well-made play, as devised by the French dramatist Eugene Scribe.
First part is the exposition sets up the situation - Nora's conversation with H, Kristina & Krog tell us all we need to know.
Act two is taken up with development & complication of the story. N struggles to find a way out, first by changing H's mind & then asking DR.
The action reaches a crisis when all possible solutions fail - Nora's tarantella - a frantic attempt to postpone the reading of Krog's letter
Act 3 drives towards a climax - Ibsen develops suspense by hinting that a resolution is about to happen. Krog's change of heart could mean the letter will be destroyed.
Then Ibsen closes the possibility with Kristina deciding to reveal the truth - builds up further suspense by making DR delay H's reading of the letter.
This reaches the 'scene a faire': confrontation between Nora and Helmer - this is the scene the audience has expected since the start
At the denouement, the revelation of all secrets, the original audience would expect something similar to H's meditation of forgiveness - only happens after his selfishness has made it meaningless.
The resolution at the end of the play proves to be a reversal of expectation - as the announcement she is leaving her marriage isn't an ending but a new story.
No english version will give the exact sense of the original play. One translator may be as accurate as possible, another may try and replicate the original impact.
Conveniently, there was a person in Victorian England who was bilingual to provide a translation - however one by T. Weber was notorious.
Some example of the strange translations are:
'That cohabitation between you and me might become a matrimony. Good-bye. (T. Weber)
'That communion between us shall be a marriage. Good-bye. (W. Archer)
English playwright Granville-Barker offered a prize for any drama student who could say the Weber line with a straight face - therefore it is worth a glance at Weber to realise translation is not word for word - it is meaning.
Language & Crafstmanship
Spontaneity and colloquial ease are not easy to achieve in naturalistic dialogue - as the audience has to be given information that the characters already know.
For example, it is believable for N & H to talk about the cost of things after a shopping trip - but it is also a way to let audience understand socioeconomic status.
An example of this is when N & DR are talking about the taboo topic of syphilis in language about food - showing awareness of scandalous nature of subject & also closeness of their friendship - clear it depends on a witty double act.
If they are proud of their control of language - as in the way they flirt outrageously over the silk stockings - they can be taken by suprise by their own directness - DR's declaration of love is sudden as if he cannot hide behind the clever language.
Finally in the last act, they say a loving farewell through allusions to 'light' - the imaginative language keeps H out of the conversation - but it is also a way of acknowledging their shared history.
Over the course of the action the word 'light' has developed a special meaning which is very personal to them - as N offers to light a cigar she indicates that she is giving what she can - even though they cannot be lovers.
When DR thanks for the light - refers to all that she means for him - dignity of this goodbye is a marked contrast to Act 2, where Nora is too preoccupied with own problems to pay proper attention to Ranks news of his illness.
Language & Repression
Nora's awareness of the possibilities of language allow growth - and on the other hand H's lack of imagination makes him take the last goodbye of N & DR at face value - never looks below surface of own language.
Audience realises that H has built prison of language for himself - in final confrontation he is at a loss - although he is clearly in pain & repeatedly asks for compromise - cannot speak of own feelings
Up to N to find the language to articulate possibility of change - longing to swear is frivolous - but indicates importance she places on free speech - H's refusal to discuss important subjects has created censorship.
Scattered through the play are moments resembling types of play Ibsen detested - N has a number of these - ranging from casual remarks (Act1, P24) to a speech at the end of Act2.
Ibsen prided self on removing soliloquies as exposition dumps because thought they were clumsy - however found a new use here - as a way of telling us N's imagination.
Behaving as if she is living in a world of well-made plays, where noble sacrifices are made - by speaking in this language - she is trying on such a role.
Like N, the original audience would struggle to articulate ideas of gender when their imagination & expectations were shaped by stereotype.
When N sits and engages in rational dialogue w/ H, giving logical analysis of life problems; shows understanding of world has changed - no longer expects a happy ending.
A New Norway
Ibsen born in time of change - post-Napoleonic wars, Danish king ceded Norway to Karl 14th of Sweden - Norway had own parliament but throughout his life struggle for independence continued.
Growing enthusiasm for Norwegian culture and for newly-writte form of Norwegian (landsmaal) - Danish was still culture language, however chance to write in this language gave Norwegian playwrights a real voice.
In 18282 (Birth Year), 90% of population involved in agriculture; way of life similar to middle ages - by time of writing - industrialised capitalism.
Towns linked by railways (N's plans realistic), population doubled, new social groups formed (working class, middle class & the bourgeoisie
Year 1848 was revolutionary - radical reform movement in Norway defended rights of working class - put down with aid of Swedish.
In 1864, Prussia invaded Schleswig - Karl 15 of Sweden & Norway offered help to Denmark, but this was forbidden by Norway's parliament - by April Prussia stormed a Danish town.
By 1882, the left won a significant victory in the parliament but did little with power - process of expanding vote was slow.
These factors combined in one of his plays, central character says 'the majority is never right' (play about bureaucratic corruption) - in ADH consequences are personal, not social, but still show the corruption of K, NF, H.
In 1858 published Origin of Species, which created evolution & undermined biblical establishment