European Theater History

Hope you liked Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. It was quite ground-breaking in its time and Nora’s departure caused quite an outcry. It doesn’t seem mild stuff now either, even though the conventions have changed. Remember what we talked about regarding works from history—we must do the time-travelling, the work is what it is.

My take away from the play is the tremendous sympathy Ibsen has for Nora. She’s tried so hard to be more than society allows her to be, and she suffers for it. Her faith in her own abilities and her marriage is shaken apart when Torvald doesn’t respect or even comprehend what she did for him, and what he didn’t do for her. Ibsen even has some pity for Torvald as well. He’s as much a prisoner of society as Nora is. He can’t see what she sees, or feel what she feels. Few men of his time were taught the need for that. Torvald is situational, transactional, as he was raised to be. Nora, however, realizes a bigger picture and breaks free of her upbringing—but not without great sacrifice. You may view the play differently, it can mean different things to each of us.

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Using your notes from your viewing of A Doll’s House and after watching the two short videos at the links below, write a reaction to what’s happened to theater since we first started. You can use Ibsen as a discussion point to write about any social themes you’ve seen in theater and images or speeches you found powerful. How are you feeling/thinking about the theater you’ve seen in this class? Does the theater we’ve seen so far put your own personal history into any kind of perspective?

2-3 pages, or more if you’d like.

Please watch these short videos before you write:


National Theater of Great Britain: The Work of Ibsen, Part One
This video gives you an idea of how directors and playwrights think about Ibsen, especially about A Doll’s House.


Crash Course Theater: Ibsen and Strindberg
Another fun video that highlights some of the developments around Ibsen (with special attention to A Doll’s House) and his “theatrical opponent” August Strindberg, whose works you should check out online when you have some time.

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