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A Doll’s House: Theater brings life to 19th-century play

By Bree Streetman

Entertainment editor

A Doll’s House is a three-act play written by Henrik Ibsen originally in 1879. It tells the story of a housewife (Nora) who suffers from a crippling secret she keeps from her husband (Torvald) in order to save her husband’s pride. The play is significant for its critical attitude toward 19th century marriage norms.

In order to save her husband’s pride, Nora takes out a loan from Krogstad (a desperate employee of Trovald’s) bank illegally by forging her deceased father’s signature. Torvald dismisses the fact that Nora had to make the agonizing choice between her conscience and his health, and ignores her years of secret efforts to free them from the ensuing obligations and danger of loss of reputation. He preserves his peace of mind by thinking of the incident as a mere mistake that she made owing to her foolishness.

Nora tells Torvald that she is leaving him to live alone so that she can find out who she is, what she believes and how she decides what to do with her life. She says that she has been treated like a doll to play with for her whole life, first by her father and then by him.

Concerned for the family reputation, Torvald insists that she fulfill her duty as a wife and mother, but Nora says that her first duties are to herself and that she cannot be a good mother or wife without learning to be more than a plaything. She reveals that she had expected that he would want to sacrifice his reputation for hers and that she had planned to kill herself to prevent him from doing so.

She then realized that Torvald is not at all the kind of person she had believed him to be and that their marriage had been based on mutual fantasies and misunderstanding.

Freshman musical theatre major Timothy Mereus, who played Dr. Rank in Shorter’s portrayal of the play, said that it became natural to take on the role of a character in that time period after preparation.

“The play was an amazing experience,” said Mereus. “Once all the lines were memorized, it became easier to slip into the atmosphere of this 19th-century situation.”