Study Guide

A Doll's House The Home

By Henrik Ibsen

The Home

Act One
Torvald Helmer

HELMER: "An atmosphere of lies infects and poisons the whole life of a home. Each breath the children take in such a house is full of the germs of evil." (1.469)

Torvald is unaware at this point that he lives in just such a home. Has it really hurt the children in any way?

Act Two
Nora Helmer

NORA: "Certainly Torvald does understand how to make a house dainty and attractive."
MRS. LINDE: "And so do you, it seems to me." (2.34-2.35)

So great is Torvald's domination that Nora gives him credit for even the stereotypically feminine role of homemaking.

NORA: "You never can tell what mischief these men may contrive. We ought to be so well off, so snug and happy here in our peaceful home." (2.110)

It's interesting that their supposedly perfect home is threatened by nothing more than the truth.

Dr. Rank

RANK: "I cannot imagine for a moment what would have become of me if I had never come into this house." (2.174)

The seeming perfection of the Helmers' home has been a great comfort to Dr. Rank. Too bad the house was far from perfect.

Act Three
Nora Helmer

NORA: "Our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife." (3.286)

Here it is: the central metaphor for the whole play. Nora is just Torvald's toy in a toy house.

Dr. Rank

RANK: "Ah, yes!—these dear familiar rooms. You are very happy and cosy in here, you two." (3.148)

Here again we see Rank's misguided idealization of the Helmers' home. We wonder how he would feel if he knew it was all going to be shattered in about fifteen minutes.

Torvald Helmer

HELMER: "You will still remain in my house, that is a matter of course." (3.242)

Notice that Torvald calls it his house. What—so, Nora was just a guest this whole time?

HELMER: "How warm and cosy our home is, Nora. Here is shelter for you; here I will protect you like a hunted dove that I have saved from a hawk's claws." (3.257)

Does Nora feel protected by this home, or imprisoned?

Mrs. Christine Linde

MRS. LINDE: "What a difference! Someone to work for and live for—a home to bring comfort into." (3.84)

Christine's main objective as a character seems to be finding a new home. To her, home seems to mean having a family to work and care for.

Stage Directions: SCENE—A room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not extravagantly.

Why would Ibsen be so specific in describing the furnishings of the Helmers' home?