Create and defend an argument on Ibsen’s stance on women based on Act 1 of the play.
Book: Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England by Judith Flanders — Chapter 6
“Victorians thought that women who were independent were somehow incomplete, whereas we think the opposite – that without independence it is difficult to be a whole person.” – Judith Flanders, The Victorian Home, p. 215.
Flanders argues that without independence it is impossible to be a whole person. Write an essay in which you compare her statement to Ibsen’s message in his play A Doll’s House. Explain how he uses the title of his play, his characters, and/or other devices in Act 1 to support your answer.
What is a “trope” (p. 215)? Why does the author use that word here?
Nora and Helmer work hard to keep up appearances of being a model Victorian family. How is Victorian society also, in effect, working to keep up appearances?
How does Ibsen weave together these themes of gender roles and appearances throughout the play?
Students should read at least pp. 214–219 of the chapter called “The Parlor” in The Victorian Home in order to deepen their understanding of Victorian era beliefs about women and respond to the essay question. Reading the entire chapter, if time allows, might also help deepen students’ thinking about the setting of A Doll’s House and the significance of the title. The action of the play takes place entirely inside a home, the sphere within which “respectable” women were expected to operate in Victorian times.