1879 1890

HENRIK IBSEN'S
A DOLL'S HOUSE & HEDDA GABLER

CONTENTS
CONTENTS
SECTION............................ SEARCH ON

THE AUTHOR AND HIS TIMES............................. IDOLAUTH

A Doll's House
THE PLAY
The Plot.......................................... IDOLPLOT
The Characters.................................... IDOLCHAR
Other Elements
Setting...................................... IDOLSETT
Themes....................................... IDOLTHEM
Style........................................ IDOLSTYL
Form and Structure........................... IDOLFORM
THE STORY......................................... IDOLSTOR

A STEP BEYOND
Test and Answers.................................. IDOLTEST
Term Paper Ideas and other Topics for Writing..... IDOLTERM

Hedda Gabler
THE PLAY
The Plot.......................................... IHEDPLOT
The Characters.................................... IHEDCHAR
Other Elements
Setting...................................... IHEDSETT
Themes....................................... IHEDTHEM
Style........................................ IHEDSTYL
Form and Structure........................... IHEDFORM
THE STORY......................................... IHEDSTOR

A STEP BEYOND
Test and Answers.................................. IHEDTEST
Term Paper Ideas and other Topics for Writing..... IHEDTERM

A DOLL'S HOUSE AND HEDDA GABLER
The Critics....................................... IDOLCRIT

Advisory Board.................................... IDOLADVB

Bibliography...................................... IDOLBIBL

AUTHOR_AND_HIS_TIMES
THE AUTHOR AND HIS TIMES (IDOLAUTH)
-
On a chilly April day in 1864, Henrik Ibsen arrived at the docks
in the Norwegian capital of Oslo (then called Christiania). The
young man was a failure. The theater he'd run had closed, and none
of his own plays were successful. He had a wife and a young son to
support, but all his possessions had been auctioned off two years
before to pay his debts. He'd applied for a grant from his native
country, Norway, but was turned down.
Disillusioned by his country and society, Ibsen, together with his
wife and son, boarded a ship and left Norway, figuratively slamming
the door behind him.
Fifteen years later, a similarly disillusioned Nora Helmer would
slam the door on stage at the end of A Doll's House, helping to change
the course of modern drama.
Ibsen had become disillusioned very early. In 1836, when he was
eight years old, his wealthy parents went bankrupt. They were forced
to move from town to a small farm. All of their old friends deserted
them, and they lived for years in social disgrace. Although young
Henrik appeared quiet and withdrawn, his deep, bitter anger at society
would occasionally escape in the scathing caricatures he would draw or
in tirades against young playmates. His sole happiness seemed to
come from reading books and putting on puppet plays.
Ibsen didn't like his own family any more than he liked the "proper"
society that shunned them. His domineering father was an alcoholic,
while his quiet mother found comfort in religion. This blend of
overbearing husband and submissive wife makes repeated appearances
in his plays, most notably in Brand, in A Doll's House, and in Ghosts,
After he left his parents' home at sixteen in 1844, he never went
back, even years later when he got word that his mother was dying.
Hoping eventually to study medicine, Ibsen became a druggist's
apprentice in Grimstad, a small Norwegian village. But he still felt
like an outsider, a feeling that would dog him all his life and find
expression in many of his plays. (It didn't help his social standing
when he fathered an illegitimate son by a servant girl ten years older
than he. Some feel that it was this unwanted child that reappears in
many of his plays as a lost or murdered child. In A Doll's House,
the nursemaid gives away her illegitimate child.) But Ibsen found he
wasn't alone in his contempt for those who controlled society. He
became friends with a boisterous group of young artists who
specialized in political satire.
By 1848, a spirit of political unrest was sweeping Europe.
Rebellions against monarchy flared in many countries. This spirit of
revolution was intoxicating for Ibsen and his friends. Royalty and
aristocracy seemed on their way out; the people were coming into their
own.
Two years later, Ibsen moved to Oslo to attend the university but
failed to complete the entrance examinations. He was so caught up in
politics and writing, however, that he really didn't care. After
all, modern society seemed to be at a crossroads, and the world
offered infinite possibilities.
But things began to go wrong. The revolutions of 1848 faltered and
finally were crushed. Artists and politicians alike lost their
idealism. The world of infinite possibilities didn't really exist.
Years later, Ibsen would use the experiences of this period in his
plays. Certain of his characters (like Nora in A Doll's House and
Lovborg and Hedda in Hedda Gabler) reflect the possibility of a
society where people