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A Doll's House

This article is about A Doll's House, the play by Henrik Ibsen. There is a separate article about The Doll's House, the graphic novel collection of the comic book The Sandman.

A Doll's House is a play by Henrik Ibsen. The play was highly controversial when first published, as it is sharply critical of Victorian marriage norms.

A Doll's House (1879) is a scathing criticism of the traditional roles of men and women in Victorian marriage. Ibsen has his protagonist, Nora, leave her husband in search of the wider world, after realizing that he is not the noble creature she has supposed him to be. Her role in the marriage is that of a doll, her house a "Doll's House", and indeed her husband Torvald refers to her incessantly as his little "starling" and as his "squirrel". She is not even permitted a key to the mailbox. When she is blackmailed due to an improper act which she commits in order to save her husband's life, (forging her father's name on a note), her husband declares that he will put her away. His only concern is his own reputation, despite the love for him which prompts her to do it.

When the blackmailer recants, it could all be over, and in a traditional Victorian drama all would then be resolved. For Ibsen, however, and for Nora, it is too late to go back to the way things were. Her illusions destroyed, she decides she must leave her husband, her children, and her Doll's House to discover what is truly real and what is not.

To the Victorians, this was scandalous. Nothing was considered more sacrosanct than the covenant of marriage, and to portray it in such a way was completely unacceptable. Some theatre houses refused to stage the play, so Ibsen was pressed to write an alternate ending that was far less black. This distressed him considerably, and on occasion he actually submitted a "correction" at the last minute to the actors on opening nights.