What About Part 1? About Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

by on September 28, 2018

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‘A Doll’s House, Part 2’ is a sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play ‘A Doll’s House.’ ‘Part 2’ stands on its own, but if you’re curious about what happened in “Part 1,” read on for a brief summary.

What About Part 1? About Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

Purchase tickets to A Doll’s House, Part 2

Nora and Torvald Helmer seem to be the perfect couple, with a lovely middle-class home and three young children. Nora, however, has a secret: years ago, she forged her father’s signature to help secure a loan from a man named Krogstad, and she’s been laboring to pay it back ever since. The money was needed for a long trip Torvald had to take for health reasons. Essentially, Nora saved Torvald’s life, but he has no idea; he thinks Nora inherited the money from her father.

When Krogstad uses Nora’s forgery to blackmail her and later Torvald, Nora is both anxious and hopeful that Torvald will do the chivalrous thing and take responsibility for her crime, sacrificing himself to save her honor. Instead, when he finds out about the forgery, he berates her, vows to cover up the scandal in any way he can, and forbids her from raising their children.

Torvald ultimately forgives Nora after Krogstad has a sudden change of heart and drops his threats. But Nora has discovered how little her husband respects her. To Torvald, she’s only a child or a doll—his pet, not his partner. In the last scene, Nora confronts him about their marriage, and the play ends with a resounding door slam as Nora leaves her family in search of independence and her own identity.

Lucas Hnath on ‘A Doll’s House’

A Doll’s House, Part 2 is set fifteen years after the end of A Doll’s House. Discussing the origins of Part 2 in an interview last year, playwright Lucas Hnath reflected on why Ibsen’s work remains powerful:

[T]he action that takes place at the end [of A Doll’s House] was a shock when it was first produced, and it’s still a shock today. The way that it’s built is it’s a couple that actually is failing to talk to each other for most of the play. Then you hit that final scene where Nora says, ‘We need to talk.’ That is such a resonant moment, and it’s such a familiar moment too. It cuts to the heart of a problem in all intimate relationships. Also, Ibsen is trying to define what freedom is and is identifying the ways in which we are not as free as we think we are. Fears about reputation and how we’re viewed in the world, and anxieties about money and social standing—I think those are all shackles that remain today.

Purchase tickets to A Doll’s House, Part 2

Actors Theater of Louisville
316 West Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Box Office: 502.584.1205
502.371.0956 TDD

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