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A Doll’s House – Henrik Ibsen

A Doll’s HouseA Doll’s House (Bokmål: Et dukkehjem; also translated as A Doll House) is a three-act play written by Henrik Ibsen. It premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 21 December 1879, having been published earlier that month.[1] The play is set in a Norwegian town circa 1879.

The play is significant for the way it deals with the fate of a married woman, who at the time in Norway lacked reasonable opportunities for self-fulfillment in a male dominated world. It aroused a great sensation at the time,[2] and caused a “storm of outraged controversy” that went beyond the theatre to the world newspapers and society.[3]

In 2006, the centennial of Ibsen’s death, A Doll’s House held the distinction of being the world’s most performed play for that year.[4] UNESCO has inscribed Ibsen’s autographed manuscripts of A Doll’s House on the Memory of the World Register in 2001, in recognition of their historical value.[5]

The title of the play is most commonly translated as A Doll’s House, though some scholars use A Doll House. John Simon says that A Doll’s House is “the British term for what we call a ‘dollhouse'”.[6] Egil Törnqvist says of the alternative title: “Rather than being superior to the traditional rendering, it simply sounds more idiomatic to Americans.”

Editorial Reviews

One of the best-known, most frequently performed of modern plays, A Doll’s House richly displays the genius with which Henrik Ibsen pioneered modern, realistic prose drama. In the central character of Nora, Ibsen epitomized the human struggle against the humiliating constraints of social conformity. Nora’s ultimate rejection of a smothering marriage and life in “a doll’s house” shocked theatergoers of the late 1800s and opened new horizons for playwrights and their audiences.

But daring social themes are only one aspect of Ibsen’s power as a dramatist. A Doll’s House shows as well his gifts for creating realistic dialogue, a suspenseful flow of events and, above all, psychologically penetrating characterizations that make the struggles of his dramatic personages utterly convincing. Here is a deeply absorbing play as readable as it is eminently playable, reprinted from an authoritative translation.
A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

About the Author

Henrik Johan Ibsen (20 March 1828 – 23 May 1906) was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as “the father of realism” and is one of the founders of Modernism in theatre. His major works include Brand, Peer Gynt, An Enemy of the People, Emperor and Galilean, A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, When We Dead Awaken, Pillars of Society, The Lady from the Sea, Rosmersholm, The Master Builder, and John Gabriel Borkman. He is the most frequently performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare,[3][4] and by the early 20th century A Doll’s House became the world’s most performed play.

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