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Free Barron's Booknotes-A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen-Free Book Notes
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1. B

2. B

3. C

4. C

5. A

6. C

7. B

8. B

9. A

10. B

11. You might start by showing how things appear at the beginning. Nora and Torvald seem to have a happy marriage and a secure social position. Both Kristine and Krogstad appear to be lonely outcasts who have little to live for.

Then describe how these appearances start to crumble. Nora's marriage is based on deceptions and manipulation. Kristine, on the other hand, recognizes her own empty marriage and has accepted responsibility for her life. Kristine sees life realistically, while Nora hides from reality. Torvald and Krogstad both seek respectability, but Torvald is a pillar of society, while Krogstad is a forger.

Some of the circumstances that these couples have in common come to the surface. Nora is found to be guilty of the same crime that Krogstad once committed. She is in danger of morally infecting her children the same way that society feels Krogstad is ruining his.

Kristine and Krogstad are eventually able to look at the truth about themselves and each other. They can forgive each other and go about building a new life together. Nora and Torvald are also forced to see the truth about each other. However, while Nora realizes that their relationship and her life have been based on lies, Torvald refuses to admit they are lies. He can't forgive because, unlike Kristine and Krogstad, he still holds society's false values uppermost. While the truth saves Krogstad and Kristine, lies ruin Nora and Torvald.

12. Cite examples to show that Torvald thinks his wife is a doll, a toy, and a temptress with no ideas of her own. He thinks his house is free from debt; he believes he can control his family and his business decisions. He sees Rank only as his friend and ignores the doctor's relationship to Nora.

Nora at the outset believes that her husband is a good man who looks out for her best interests. She thinks she is an adult, a good wife and mother. She also thinks that secrets and manipulations are the normal ways to get what she wants. She treats life as a game that she knows how to play. She thinks that Torvald will be honorable and save her.

But Nora finds increasingly that reality intrudes. Dr. Rank is near death. The hidden loan is coming to the surface. She realizes that forgery even for love is a criminal act.

Krogstad's threat to reveal Nora's past act initiates the series of crises that forces Nora into reality. She is prepared for this by Rank's confession of his love. His imminent death will leave Nora and Torvald alone together. When the final crisis comes and they face each other, Nora's last illusion is shattered. She finds out that Torvald is looking out for himself, not her. In fact, no one is looking out for her. This is a role she must take on herself. She must leave her "doll's house" to become a person.

13. There are many parallel situations in the play. They call attention to the different ways each situation might be worked out. You might cite specific examples-for example, Torvald and Nora mirror each other at the beginning of the play because they both favor appearance over reality. This calls attention to the contrast between them at the end when she has the strength to reject appearances.

Kristine's former marriage parallels Nora's. It was an empty sham. Kristine married to get money for a good cause the same way that Nora illegally borrowed money for a good cause. However, in contrast to Nora, Kristine knows what she has done and is ready for a new life.

Krogstad and Nora are in similar situations. They are both accused of passing on moral sickness to their children. They are also both considered to have contracted their sickness from a parent. Krogstad, however, is an outcast, while she is respected. He knows he has committed a crime, while Nora sees her act as a gesture of love.

Dr. Rank, Krogstad, and Nora all have an "inherited" sickness that must be faced. Nora and Dr. Rank play at love (like Nora and Torvald). They both face death, and at the end of the play, both are in a sense released to "a greater beyond." Unlike that of Nora or Krogstad, Rank's sickness is not purely moral so he is condemned to certain death. Nora's death, however, is a self- created fantasy based on wishful thinking. Also, unlike Rank, Nora refuses to acknowledge her feelings for him as well as his for her.

Anne-Marie, the nursemaid, parallels Nora because she gave up her child to be raised by someone else. In contrast to Nora, she had to do it for social and economic reasons. Nora proposes to give up her children for moral reasons.

There are other examples of parallelism and contrast that you might choose instead.

14. Heredity is first introduced when it is disclosed that Dr. Rank is dying of an unnamed disease he was born with, and for which his father's immoral ways were in some sense responsible. The term heredity as used in the play could also be considered as environmental influence or psychological conditioning. Torvald insists that someone like Krogstad is a criminal because he had a dishonest mother. This implies that Nora's children are in moral danger of "catching" dishonesty from her. Torvald also assures Nora that she inherited her ineptitude with money from her father. The connection between the moral condition of a parent and child is reinforced by Dr. Rank's references to children suffering for the sins of their fathers (or other family members) in Act 2.

Other forces of so-called heredity or parental transmission are at work. Nora learned compliance from her father and has transferred this relationship to Torvald. She is teaching her children to be unthinking and compliant the same way she was taught. To her, this is more dangerous than passing on dishonesty. However, we see the possibility of thwarting "heredity," or past conditioning, in Krogstad's conversion by love and Nora's by intellectual self-realization.

15. It seems that Nora has to leave because the situation in her home will not allow her to discover who she is and how to live truthfully. She and Torvald have never had a serious discussion, and Torvald shows no signs of knowing how to start. His deeply ingrained gender role is dependent on her being passive and innocent (ignorant?). Moreover, he considers her deeply guilty of moral corruption and a danger to his children. He lacks compassion. When the crisis passes, he insists on treating her like a child again.

Nora, on the other hand, has to take time to question the attitudes she's been spoon-fed. Is society right? Is the church right? Is Torvald right? Maybe there's truth on all sides, but she's never thought it out for herself. She feels she must remove herself from this false relationship before she can begin to discover if it can become constructive.

Will Nora ever return? If you choose to argue that she will, find evidence to support the view that (a) Torvald will change; (b) Nora will find a way to compromise; (c) Nora will not be able to cope on her own without her children; (d) Nora will realize her "folly"; or a similar argument.

If you choose to say she will never return, argue that (a) Torvald will never change; (b) Nora couldn't accept any marriage situation of that era; (c) she couldn't forgive Torvald for his rejection; (d) she never really loved Torvald; (e) she can make it on her own in the world; or another similar position.

Remember to support your view with evidence of Nora's and Torvald's characters drawn from the play.

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