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A Doll's House

A Doll's House

by Henrik Ibsen

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

Not long before her famous door slamming exit, Nora has a little something to say to her husband, Torvald: "Our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife" (3.286). With statements like this, it's probably not too hard to guess where the play's title might have come from. Torvald has never treated Nora as anything more than a plaything. He admires her beauty. He gets her to dance for him. He even dresses her up in costumes. In effect, she is his doll. The home they live in seems perfect and picturesque, but in reality it is just like the Helmers' marriage: all for show. Nora adds, "at home I was papa's doll-child" (3.286). She's never been anything but a man's plaything. Every house she's ever lived in has been just as artificial.

It's interesting to note that not all translators dub the play with the exact same title. In Norwegian, it's Et Dukkehjem. Some translators, like the one we've chosen to reference, interpret this as A Doll's House, while others simply call it A Doll House. In one version, doll is possessive; in another it's merely descriptive of what kind of house it is. Which do you think more accurately describes the play? Is it really Nora's house, since Torvald controls everything? Or is she equally as responsible for building the fantasy world that she and Torvald live in?

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