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A Doll


A Doll s House I: Historical and Social Context II: Life of Ibsen III: A Doll s House By Henrik Ibsen Historical and Social Context A Doll s House was published ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: A Doll

A Dolls House
I Historical and Social Context
II Life of Ibsen
III A Dolls House
  • By Henrik Ibsen

Historical and Social Context
  • A Dolls House was published in Norway on
    December 4th, 1879.
  • The first stage production was in Copenhagen
    on December 21st, 1879.
  • The play caused an immediate sensation, sparked
    debate and controversy, and brought Ibsen
    international fame.
  • Performing the play was considered a
    revolutionary action, a daring defiance of
    cultural norms of Victorian Europe (1837-1901).

Historical and Social Context
  • Bourgeois Respectability

Picture Woman in formal gown, c. 1879 Grands
Magasins Pygmalion, Summer Catalog 1879
Ideals Financial Success, upward social
mobility, freedom from financial debt and moral
guilt, and a stable, secure family organized
along traditional patriarchal lines.
Historical and Social Context
Patriarchal ideals were supported and reinforced
by a social structure in which women had little
overt political or economic power. They were
economically, socially, and psychologically
dependent upon men and especially dependent upon
the institutions of marriage and motherhood.
Picture Mother and Two Children by Mary Cassatt
Historical and Social Context
Social Responsibility
Motherhood within marriage was considered a
womans highest possible achievement. It was a
social responsibility, a duty to the state, and
thus, a full-time job. Mothering was no longer
something that came naturally, but was something
that had to be learned. High infant mortality
rates, particularly in urban areas, were
unilaterally blamed on mothers. Working class
mothers were labeled neglectful, when in truth
they struggled with both child care and feeding a
A Victorian mother, pushing a pram
Historical and Social Context
The Ideal Woman
  • Patience
  • Piety
  • Frugality
  • Industry

'... her ardent and unceasing flow of spirits,
extreme activity and diligence, her punctuality,
uprightness and remarkable frugality, combined
with a firm reliance on God ... carried her
through the severest times of pressure, both with
credit and respectability ...' (The General
Baptist Repository and Missionary Observer,
Victorian husband and wife
Historical and Social Context
At Home
  • The home was considered a haven from the outside
  • The middle class home contained concrete
    expressions of domesticity in the form of
    servants, homely décor, comfortable furnishings,
    home entertainment, and clothing.
  • Womens fashion reflected their homes interior
    furnishing, further cementing them in their role
    as wife, mother, and domestic manager.

Historical and Social Context
Household Management
Numerous publications were written to instruct
women on how to be good wives and household
'She the housewife is the architect of home,
and it depends on her skill, her foresight, her
soft arranging touches whether it shall be the
"lodestar to all hearts", or whether it shall be
a house from which husband and children are glad
to escape either to the street, the theatre, or
the tavern.' (The Christian Miscellany and
Family Visitor, 1890).
Mrs. Beetons Book of Household Management
(1861), remained a bestseller for over 50 years.
Historical and Social Context
  • Household Management
  • Middle class households could generally afford
    only one servant. Servants were a status symbol
    and not intended to relieve the stress of house
  • Many household chores still fell to the lady of
    the house.
  • Household duties included fetching and boiling
    water, washing and ironing clothes, scrubbing
    floors, and sewing and mending clothes and linens.

Historical and Social Context
  • Marriage
  • It was illegal to marry a deceased wife's sister.
  • Marriage was encouraged to be with someone of the
    same class.
  • A man had to prove that he could give his future
    wife a life in the manner to which she was
  • A woman had to have a dowry.
  • A family could set up a trust to protect a
    woman's inheritance.
  • Marriage was considered a business deal.

Victorian bride and groom, 1895
Historical and Social Context
  • Marriage
  • An unmarried woman could inherit money and
    property after age 21, but upon marriage control
    of her money went to her husband.
  • A woman could not have a will for her personal
  • A man could will his wife's possessions to his
    illegitimate children.

Victorian Wedding Party (date unknown).
  • Few marriages started with love.

Historical and Social Context
  • Widowhood and Mourning

A heartless wife who, instead of being grieved
at the death of her husband, is rejoiced at it,
should be taught that society will not respect
her unless she pays to the memory of the man
whose name she bears that "homage which vice pays
to virtue," a commendable respect to the usages
of society in the matter of mourning and of
retirement from the world, (Harpers Bazaar,
April 17, 1886).
As for periods of mourning, we are told that a
widow's mourning should last eighteen months,
although in England it is somewhat lightened in
twelve, (Harpers Bazaar, April 17, 1886).
Typical mourning dress (Harpers Bazaar, April
17, 1886).
Life of Ibsen
Henrik Johan Ibsen 1828-1906
  • Born May 20, 1828 in Skien, Norway
  • Died May 23, 1906 of complications resulting from
    a series of strokes
  • Poet, playwright, and essayist.
  • Sometimes wrote under the pseudonym Brynjolf
  • Considered the pioneer of modern drama because he
    broke away from the romantic tradition of 19th
    Century Theatre with realistic portrayals of

Life of Ibsen
  • Changed theatrical tradition from exaggerated
    suspense and mistaken identity to a scenario that
    closely resembles everyday life.
  • Used realistic dialogue, commonplace events, and
    symbolism to explore the elusiveness of
    self-knowledge and the restrictive nature of
    traditional morality.
  • His characters are strong individuals who come in
    conflict with the oppressive social mores of 19th
    century Norwegian society.

I prefer to ask tis not my task to answer.
Life of Ibsen
Three Phases of Ibsens Work
  • Phase One Early dramas written in verse and
    modeled after romantic historical tragedy and
    Norse sagas.
  • Phase Two Prose dramas concerned with social
    realism. A Dolls House was written during this
  • Phase Three Dealt with the conflict between art
    and life, where he shifted his focus from the
    individual in society to the individual alone and

A Dolls House
  • Et Dukkehjem (A Dolls House, 1879) is considered
    a masterpiece of realist theatre.
  • The plot concerns the collapse of a middle class
  • Sparked debates about womens rights and divorce.
  • Considered innovative and daring because of its
    focus on psychological tension instead of
    external action.

Det Kongelige Teater in Copenhagen where the play
was first performed in December of 1879.
  • Created a new acting style that required emotion
    be conveyed through small, controlled gestures,
    shifts in action, and pauses.
  • Groundbreaking in that it caused drama to be
    viewed as social commentary and not merely

A Dolls House
  • Critics and Ibsen
  • Critics considered him to be amoral and accused
    him of encouraging amoral behavior and portraying
    unwomanly women.
  • Was accused of being iconoclastic in that they
    thought that he sought to overthrow traditional
    ideas and institutions.
  • Widely criticized for the character of Nora for
    her decision to abandon her children. Critics
    felt that no real woman would ever make that
  • Critics and viewers alike hated the fact that
    Ibsen offers no real solution to Noras dilemma.

A Dolls House
  • Cast of Characters

Betty Hemmings as Nora Helmer
Emil Poulsen as Torvald Helmer
A Dolls House
  • Cast of Characters

Agnes N. Dehn as Mrs. Linde
Sophus Peterson as Nils Krogstad
A Dolls House
  • Cast of Characters

Louise Phister as Anne Marie with children
Peter W. Jerndoff as Dr. Rank
A Dolls House
  • Themes
  • Appearances vs. Reality
  • Identity and Search for Self
  • Betrayal
  • Pride
  • Sexism
  • Deception
  • Honor
  • Growth and Identity

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