Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
- Full Title: A Doll’s House (Norwegian: Ett dukkehjem)
- When Written: 1879
- Where Written: Dresden, Germany
- When Published: Published and first performed in December 1879
- Literary Period: Realism; modernism
- Genre: Realist modern prose drama
- Setting: A town or city in Norway
- Climax: When Torvald discovers the letter from Krogstad revealing Nora’s secret
- Antagonist: At first Krogstad, then Torvald
A True Story: A Doll’s House is based on the life of Ibsen’s family friend Laura Kieler, whose actions inspired the story of Nora’s secret debt. In reality, however, Kieler did not forge a signature, and when her husband, Victor, discovered her secret, he divorced her and forced her to be committed to an insane asylum. Ibsen, appalled by Kieler’s committal, wrote A Doll’s House in part as a way of defending her. After two years in the asylum Kieler returned to live with her husband and children and became a famous author in Denmark.
Scandalous: When it was first performed and for many years afterwards, A Doll’s House caused quite the scandal for its criticism of 19th-century marriage customs and portrayal of a woman abandoning her family in order to gain a sense of self. Pressured by several theatres and even the actress who was supposed to play Nora in a German production of the play, Ibsen wrote an alternative ending, in which Nora, upon seeing her children, changes her mind and stays with Torvald. He later regretted doing this, calling the adapted ending “a barbaric outrage.”