A Doll's House
(Norwegian: Et Dukkehjem
) is an 1879 play in three acts by Henrik Ibsen
The main character is a middle-class wife and mother, Nora Helmer, who spends most of her time acting like a child for the amusement of her husband, Torvald. The play revolves around her realization that she has spent her whole life being defined by her identity as a daughter, wife, and mother, and that both her father and her husband have treated her like a doll rather than a person.
The play is a scathing critique of nineteenth-century marriage, and it is very feminist in outlook for its time
, although Ibsen said this was never intentional and that his intended message was not so much about women's rights as about the more need for any individual (of either gender) to explore and define their own identity.
A Doll's House provides examples of the following tropes:
- Both Sides Have a Point: Some critics think Ibsen was aiming for this, allowing audiences to make up their own minds as to who was ultimately "right." (Modern audiences tend to miss this, since Nora's viewpoint is much closer to modern sensibilities than Torvald's.)
- Broken Bird: Nora's long time friend Kristine Linde
- Casual Kink: Torvald seems to enjoy the thought of Nora, his wife, retaining her peasant girl role from the masquerade and being his secret lover. Quite racy for an upstanding bank manager at the time.
- Childhood Friends: Nora and Linde, also Torvald and Dr. Rank.
- First Name Basis: Torvald names the trope when discussing Krogstad's behavior while working at the bank. Krogstad seems to think familiarity will ensure a promotion, but it actually leads to him being fired.
- Foreshadowing: Nora speaks to her trusted Nurse (who was Nora's childhood maternal figure) that "If anything were to happen, would you..."
- Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Part of the reason that the Helmers have had so many financial problems is that Torvald, according to Nora, will only take the cases he feels are morally right.
- Leaving You to Find Myself: The play's conclusion, which might be the Trope Codifier. Nora's decision was quite controversial at the time, as it entailed not only leaving Torvald but abandoning her children - the actress playing Nora in the German production of the play forced Ibsen to write a new ending (which he detested) where Nora isn't shown leaving, "because 'I would never leave my children!"
- Loan Shark: Krogstad, although his methods are rather unorthodox.
- Also deconstructed. Not only paying up the last part of the debt was was more troublesome for Nora than the debt as a whole, but Krogstad turns out to be a complex person with his own motivations instead of a mere money-grubbing asshole.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Deconstructed: Nora deliberately plays up her whimsicalness for Torvald's amusement, but it turns out that a result of said whimsicalness, she and Torvald have never sat down and had a serious conversation about anything, and thus their views on each other were severely distorted. Neither takes the discovery well.
- Promoted To Parent: This happened to Anne the nursemaid when Nora's mother died. Also reoccurs again when Nora leaves her children to Anne's care.
- Reconstruction: The reunion scene between Linde and Krogstand makes it clear that their relationship is based on understanding. So traditional marriage can work when the couple respect each other.
- Sympathy Bankrupt Banker: Averted by Torvald and played straight (but ultimately subverted) by Krogstad.
- Trophy Wife: It's possible to view Nora as this. One interpretation would be that Torvald doesn't really care about Nora at all and just wants a doll, in her words, to look good, entertain his friends, and fit the expectations of a model wife, but another would be that he genuinely loves Nora but is simply incapable of understanding her due to his conservative views.
- Unrequited Love: Dr. Ranke.
- Victorian Novel Disease: Dr. Ranke.