When in Norway – A Look at A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen.

Hello everyone. Welcome back to another #fridayschoice. 

This Friday is a very special Friday because I am talking about a play that I love, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, but not only am I talking about a play that I love by a Norwegian playwright, I am in Norway. 

I shared my November news earlier in the week which is that I am in Oslo this weekend. I couldn’t be happier. Oslo is such a beautiful city and there are so many wonderful connections to literature so make sure to follow me on Instagram (@katelovesliterature), because I will be posting the highlights of this weekend on to my stories and on to my grid. 

It’s been the best day, I have thoroughly enjoyed strolling around the city. I had the pleasure of stopping by the Ibsen Museum which has been one of the highlights of my trip. I saw the National Theatre, the Opera House, and I’ve even had drinks in a pub called Dr. Jekyll’s which is of course a reference to the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. 

I talked about the musical Jekyll & Hyde in another Friday’s Choice a few weeks ago as part of my spooky season here on Katelovesliterature.com. I absolutely love the story so you can imagine my excitement when I got to visit this pub. It was so cool. The best part of my day was walking through a bookcase. I have added a new goal to my bucket list and it is that one day I would like to have a bookcase that is secretly a door to another room in my house. It is an out-there goal but one can dream. 

A Doll’s House was originally published in 1879. 

It is a three-act play and it is a very significant play because of the reaction it caused when it first premiered. Ibsen was determined to write a feminist play and A Doll’s House highlighted the issues that women faced in a male dominated society. 

The play’s main protagonist is Nora. She is married to the very controlling Helmer. The play is about her plight because she borrowed money behind her husband’s back, and in order to keep her marriage intact he must never find out. Nora’s actions are that of a scared woman who had no other option. Her husband was sick, he would not accept help, her father was sick, she had no real life skills because she was raised to be extremely sheltered and naive. Nora spent her entire youth dependent on her father and then when she married she was entirely dependent on her husband, and he liked it that way. When her husband was sick and would not accept help, Nora was afraid of what would happen if she were to lose him because of his pride. So she goes behind his back, she borrows the money they need to help him recover. Nora had nothing but good intentions even though she may have gone about things the wrong way, and now all of her past actions are coming to haunt her in the present. Her secrets will be exposed and Nora is terrified of her life crumbling before her eyes. In all of this, Nora comes to learn about herself. She reflects upon her sheltered upbringing, she reflects upon the fact that she has never shared her opinions, or argued with her father or her husband, she has never acted for herself because she has never been allowed to, and as time goes on she realises that her secret being revealed may not be as terrible as she thinks. 

I will not ruin the play, and there are characters and plot points that I have purposely left out of this discussion. I think that A Doll’s House is a play that everyone should read and it is a play that I would love to see in a theatre someday. I studied this play for the first time when I was doing my Leaving Certificate, the second time was when I was doing a Leinster School of Music and Drama exam, and then I studied this play again in college when I was working towards getting my BA in English Literature, so it is safe to say that it is a work that I am very familiar with. It is a work that I really enjoy. It is a work that I find something different in every time I read it. It is a work that I think everyone should read at least once. 

The story is layered and compelling. The themes are so important. Nora is one of the most nuanced and complicated characters that I have studied. I absolutely love her character. I think she is a difficult one to play because she can so easily be misunderstood. I think she is a very poignant figure and a very powerful one. 

I actually really enjoy reading scripts because I like the way that I can envision the show taking place on a stage. When a piece is written for the stage it is very different to a piece that is just meant to be read as it is, and I really enjoy thinking about how the written word will translate onstage. 

This has been Friday’s Choice. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen or read A Doll’s House

Have you read any of Ibsen’s works, and if so, I’d love to know which one is your favourite. 

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. 

Kate xo. 

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