A Doll’s House is a three-act play written by Norway’s Henrik Ibsen. It premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 21 December 1879, having been published earlier that month. The play is set in a Norwegian town circa 1879.
The play is significant for the way it deals with the fate of a married woman, who at the time in Norway lacked reasonable opportunities for self-fulfillment in a male-dominated world. It aroused a great sensation at the time, and caused a “storm of outraged controversy” that went beyond the theatre to the world newspapers and society.
In 2006, the centennial of Ibsen’s death, A Doll’s House held the distinction of being the world’s most performed play that year. UNESCO has inscribed Ibsen’s autographed manuscripts of A Doll’s House on the Memory of the World Register in 2001, in recognition of their historical value.
The title of the play is most commonly translated as A Doll’s House, though some scholars use A Doll House. John Simon says that A Doll’s House is “the British term for what [Americans] call a ‘dollhouse'”. Egil Törnqvist says of the alternative title: “Rather than being superior to the traditional rendering, it simply sounds more idiomatic to Americans.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Henrik Johan Ibsen (20 March 1828 – 23 May 1906) was a Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. As one of the founders of Modernism in theatre, Ibsen is often referred to as “the father of realism” and one of the most influential playwrights of his time. His major works include Brand, Peer Gynt, An Enemy of the People, Emperor and Galilean, A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, When We Dead Awaken, Pillars of Society, The Lady from the Sea, Rosmersholm, The Master Builder, and John Gabriel Borkman. He is the most frequently performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare, and by the early 20th century A Doll’s House became the world’s most performed play.
Several of his later dramas were considered scandalous to many of his era, when European theatre was expected to model strict morals of family life and propriety. Ibsen’s later work examined the realities that lay behind the façades, revealing much that was disquieting to a number of his contemporaries. He had a critical eye and conducted a free inquiry into the conditions of life and issues of morality. His early poetic and cinematic play Peer Gynt, however, has also strong surreal elements.