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A Doll's House

A Doll's House


Henrik Ibsen

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Tragedy


Nora has a secret.

At first the Nora and Torvald Helmer appear happy. Their troubled friends, Dr. Rank and Mrs. Linde, envy their seemingly perfect live. When Krogstad shows up, however, we find out that all is not what it seems in the Helmer household. Nora once secretly borrowed money from Krogstad to save Torvald's life. She had to forge her dead father's name to do so. Now, Krogstad threatens to expose Nora, if Torvald doesn't let him keep his job. Will Nora keep her secret?

Dream Stage

Doesn't really exist.

We don't get much of a dream stage in A Doll's House. It never really looks like it's going to work out for Nora.

Frustration Stage

Nora struggles to keep her secret.

Nora is frustrated to say the least. She begs Torvald to not fire Krogstad, but Torvald does so anyway. She ponders asking Dr. Rank for the money, but feels bad about it because he's dying and is in love with her.

Nightmare Stage

Nora contemplates suicide.

Things are getting nightmarish to say the least. Krogstad returns, furious about getting fired. He tells Nora that he's going to blackmail Torvald into giving him an even better job than before. Eventually he'll control the whole bank. He leaves a note detailing everything to Torvald. Nora dances a crazy dance to distract Torvald from opening his mail. At the end of the act, Nora contemplates suicide.

Destruction or Death Wish Stage

Nora lets Torvald read Krogstad's letter. Nora leaves.

Nora finally lets Torvald read the letter. When he fails to sacrifice himself for her, she realizes that he's not the man she thought he was. This tragedy doesn't end with blood and guts. Instead, Nora, our tragic heroine, destroys her family. She deserts them to go off alone and find her individuality. Whether this is happy or sad is up to you. Either way it's tragic, because our heroine metaphorically destroys her old self by seeking a new life.

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