Essay questions and answers on A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
The essays below are mostly in marking scheme format. With points that examiners check.
It should be noted that in an exam situation, essays should be written in prose and not point form as in some of the examples below. In an exam, the "Introduction", "Body" and "Conclusion" titles should not be added in your essays. The examples below just guide on the format that your essays should take.
1. “Women are largely unappreciated for the roles they play in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.” With illustrations, discuss the validity of this statement.
All over the world, women do a lot to people around them but many a time, their roles and service to others around them go unappreciated. Women in the play, A Doll’s House by H. Ibsen do a lot that is not appreciated even by people who are close to them or no one seems to notice what they are doing.
Accept any other relevant introduction 2 marks
Points of interpretation/ Body/ Content
Wi: Christmas decoration
When the play opens, Nora is busy preparing for Christmas. She is secretly adorning the Christmas tree to unveil it as a secret to the family (p.1). During the previous Christmas, we are told that she shut herself up for three weeks making ornaments for Christmas tree. Helmer reveals: “it was the dullest three weeks I ever spent!” (p.8). his confession shows that he did not appreciate what she was doing to ensure that family has a happy Christmas.
Nora gets little money from her husband for daily family use but despite her financial obligation to Krogstad, she affords to buy clothes, gifts and toys for her children and the servants (p. 4). This is a great sacrifice on her part which goes unappreciated by her husband’s trip to Italy for his healing; she repays the loan for long using the pocket money she gets from him (p.21). She hopes that her husband would own up the guilt after discovering the secret about the loan and to prevent him from being blamed for her mistake, she is ready to kill herself once such a wonderful thing occurs. Despite all these sacrifices and selfless acts, her husband does not seem to appreciate her actions for at the end, when he discovers the secret, he refuses to forgive her and quickly makes thoughtless decisions against her. This is a great break of trust, a big betrayal to Nora who has lived all her life trying to please and care for husband.
Mrs. Linde has also done a lot that easily escapes the notice of those around her. She marries a man who is not her choice but is financially stable for the sake of her bedridden mother and two brothers. She says, “My mother was alive then, and was bedridden and helpless, and I had to provide for my two younger brothers; so, I did not think I was justified in refusing his offer” (p.14)
Nora is not appreciated by Helmes for the sacrifices she makes for the family e.g. clothes or Torvald’s health improvement
Linde decides to go back to Krogstad to save his reputation and to try to protect Nora and her family from Krogstad who is determined to expose Nora’s forgery. She wants to work not for herself but for someone else for she tells Krogstad, “Nils, give me someone and something to work for” (p.88). This reveals her selfless nature, an attribute that Krogstad doubts by saying, “I don’t trust that. It is nothing but a woman’s overstrained sense of generosity that prompts you to make such an offer of yourself” (p.88). Linde also plays a great role in helping Nora Navigate the turbulent waters in her marriage and home after her secret gets threatened to be revealed to her husband. She promises to talk to Krogstad, arranges a meeting with him and even reasons that Mr. Helmer should know about the secret to save the marriage (p.90). Despite the fact that all her actions might go unnoticed, it is clear that she has played a great role towards the play’s resolution.
Women should be appreciated for the invaluable and integral roles they play in the society.
Accept any other valid conclusion. (2marks)
2. Women play key roles in the society but more often than not their roles are never recognized. Using illustrations from A Doll's House support this assertion.
Men and women play different roles in the society but more often than not, the roles of women are overlooked as they are only seen as home makers whose area of specialization is child bearing in addition to acting as husband pleasers. This makes men who are considered as providers to be more appreciated than women. However, the reality is that women too play great roles in the society.
Nora is a woman who plays a great role of saving her husband after his illness. The doctor recommends that they go south for some time so that Helmer can get better. The family has no resources to finance such a trip but Nora takes it upon herself to get a loan to finance the trip. Most people, Helmer included, assume that Nora got the money from her father
We see Nora struggling to repay the loan where she tries to save as much as possible from what is given to her by her husband for domestic upkeep. Even when she is asked what she would want as a Christmas present, she asks for money which makes Helmer conclude that she is a spendthrift. Mrs Linde too considers Nora extravagant not knowing the sacrifices she makes to repay the loan. We learn that the previous Christmas, Nora had to lock herself in for days pretending to be doing some crotchetry when in reality she was doing some copying for people in order to get money to repay the loan. This shows that many people do not recognize her role in saving the husband's life.
Mrs Christine Linde is another woman who has played a major role in the well-being of her family yet no one seems to recognize this. We learn that she was forced to sacrifice her love for Krogstad who had nothing to offer her by marrying a rich man that she did not love. She did this so as to provide for her ailing mother and also to support her younger brothers.
After the death of her husband, she engages in odd jobs so as to support her mother and brothers and now that they are dead she feels the need to go slow on her struggles. Ironically people do not appreciate the sacrifice but rather judge her negatively as is insinuated by Norah when he asks her about her dead husband who left her nothing.
Hellen, the maid, is also portrayed as a woman who plays a great role in the society yet her role is not recognized and appreciated. We learn that she was Nora's nanny who is now taking care of Nora's own children. Ironically, she had to leave her daughter behind so as to take care Of Nora. Bringing up someone else's kid is a major sacrifice on her part and she even goes on to take care of Nora's own children. She explains to Nora that she had to do it since she was needy and could not come over with her own child.
Nora, Mrs Linde and Hellen are women who have played major roles especially in regard to providing for their families. Sadly, their roles are not appreciated by anyone. The society should stop looking down upon women and start appreciating the things they do for their families.
3. “Appearances are often misleading.” Validate this statement basing your illustrations from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.
It is human nature to judge a person from their outlook and not from who someone is from the inside. A well-dressed person, for example may be given special treatment over a shabbily dressed one. The character of a person, however, cannot be judged from how the person appears from the outside. This is well illustrated by Henrik Ibsen in A Doll’s House.
POINTS OF INTERPRETATION
- Nora has an unwavering trust in her husband Helmer. She believes that he really loves her and would come to her defense even when Krogstad publishes information concerning her fraud act. This stems from the way Helmer treats Nora with affection. She is however astonished when Helmer scolds her when he learns of the forgery. He goes ahead to restrict her from involving herself with the children.
- Nora trusts that Christine would put in a word for her and convince Krogstad to recall the letter, unread. This is after Nora had helped Christine secure a job by convincing Helmer to hire her. Once the opportune moment presents itself, Christine asks Krogstad not to recall the letter so that Helmer can read and know what ails the family. This results to disintegration of Helmer’s marriage.
- The marriage between Nora and Torvald Helmer looks perfect yet it is not. Helmer refers to Nora using affectionate pet names and spoils her by giving her more money. He believes that Nora is perfect and could not hide secrets from her yet Nora is hiding the secret of the borrowed loan. Actually, Helmer knows that Nora took money from her father yet she took it from Krogstad and forged her father’s name in order to get the money.
- Nora seems like a spendthrift and a spoilt wife yet she works tirelessly. Both Christine and Torvald accuse Nora of being inexperienced and a spendthrift. She discloses to Christine that she does copy work and has to scrape off every penny in order for her to repay Krogstad. She spent sleepless nights the previous Christmas in order to make ornaments to decorate the Christmas tree.
In conclusion, it is true to say that a book should not be judged by its cover.
4. “Desperate situations call for desperate measures.” Referring closely to A Doll’s House, write an essay in support of this statement.
- Nora becomes desperate when she is informed by the doctors that her husband is very ill and needs to go to Italy for a year to recover yet they have no money. She takes a loan with Krogstad, an individual of questionable character who blackmails her later.
- Nora becomes desperate again when her husband fires Krogstad yet the latter threatens to expose both Nora and Helmer on the matter of Nora’s forgery. This leads Nora to plan for suicide to save her husband.
- Krogstad is desperate to regain his reputation which won’t happen if he is fired. He blackmails Nora to try and secure his position in the bank.
- Linde forfeits her relationship with the person she loves because he is penniless. This is because her mother is very sick and there are two younger brothers to fend for. Mrs. Linde marries a rich man to take care of herself, her mother and her brothers.
- Nora has to work in secret to get money to repay the loan from Krogstad. Out of desperation, she has to sacrifice any money due to her for her personal needs to pay both instalments and interest.
Accept any other valid points.
Mark any 4 points
3:3:3:3 =12 marks
Introduction: 2 marks
Conclusion: 2 marks
Language competence: 4 marks
5. Women in A Doll’s House challenge society’s perception of the female gender. Write an essay justifying the assertion. (20 marks)
- In A Doll’s House, Nora, Linde and Hellene, outstrip the accepted social practices of the time by promoting women empowerment. (Any other relevant introduction)
Points of interpretation
The candidates should describe the event, the character involved and the background to the event as well as pointing out how the traditional role of women is challenged.
- W1: Nora secures a loan so as to take Helmer to Italy for treatment.
- W2: Hellene finds a job as a nanny so as to care for her child.
- W3: Mrs. Linde finds a job so as to care for herself and is supportive of her siblings and mother.
- W4: Nora decides to leave her husband and children and refuses to submit to her submissive role.
- In conclusion, the female characters challenges the stereotype afforded to women living in a male-dominated society. (Any suitable conclusion)
6. The society presented in the play, A Doll’s House, is rotten! Using Nora, Torvald, Dr. Rank and Krogstad, discuss the truthfulness of this statement in reference to the aforementioned play. (20mks)
Isben’s A Dolls House shows how this society is corrupt. Many characters are involved in one ways or the other with morally unacceptable behavior.
To begin with, Nora forges her father’s signature to secure a loan when her husband got ill and could not raise the required amount for his treatment, Nora decided to take matter into her own hands. She went to borrow money from the bank(Krogstad) in the process Nora had to have some written documents to her to secure the loan. She then decided to forge her father’s signature which later come to haunt her.
Secondly, Kregstad forging someone’s name to illegally get access to his money. As an employee of the bank, he took advantage of his position to exploit his clients. His act was later reveled and he was to face the law (punishment) but got himself out of it through corrupt ways. “…but Krogstad did nothing of that sort; he got himself out of it by a cunning trick, and that is why he has gone under altogether …”pg 46.
Moreover, Dr. Rank secretly admiring Norah despite knowing that she’s a wife to Torvald his close friend. Dr. Rank still wants to have an affair with her. He feels Nora should be in his company as much as she is in Torvald’s. This clearly shows the level of rot that is portrayed in this society. When Nora tells him that she is certain that Torvald would willingly give his life for her. Rank interjects and says that it’s not Torvald only who can do that. This insicuates that he’s willing to do anything for her because of what he feels for her.
“…do you think he’s the only one who would gladly give his life for your sake? I was determined you should know before I went away …”pg 68
Finally, Torvald giving Mrs. Linde a job at the bank, he uses his position as the manager of the bank. He uses his position as the manager of the bank to offer Mrs. Linde a job illegally without any due process followed as a public institution, we expect that after the position Krogstad was holding fell vacant after his dismissal, the due process of recruitment and interviews were to follow. This didn’t happen. Instead, Torvald just offered it directly in his house to Mrs. Linde. This is being corrupt and illegal use of the one’s position and power.
Pg 58 “… it is his/Krogstad’s post that I have arranged Mrs. Linde shall have …”
In conclusion, it is clear that corruption runs in the veins of most characters in this play for us to achieve a corrupt free society, the root causes of corruption should be identified and addressed promptly.
7. Women are generally loving and self- sacrificing. Validate this statement basing your illustrations on the play ‘A Doll’s House’ by Henrik Ibsen (20mks)
In today’s society, a person who claims to love you or really concerned about you would go to any level to show how much they care. Nora and Mrs. Linde clearly brings out this in the plays, A Doll”s House.
Nora, proves her true love and concern when she risks by forging her father’s signature in order to acquire money for the sake of her husband’s health. She goes against societal expectations and provides financial support to Helmer when he fell ill and takes him to Italy to recover. This clearly portrays her love towards her husband.
Nora sacrifices her comfort, a good and comfortable life and good clothes too in order to look for money and save as much as she can to pay the loan. She does odd jobs like embroidery and crocheting, she also saves some money given by Torvald and buys herself cheap and simple clothes with an aim of saving for the payment of the loan. Torvald also reminds her how she shut herself up for three weeks during the last Christmas Holiday making ornaments. This clearly portrays her love and sacrifice for her family.
Mrs. Linde also sacrifices her happiness when she abandons Krogstad whom she really loved for a richer man. She did this in order to get money to take care of her sick mother and younger siblings. Later on the old man dies leaving her Childless, poor and lonely. This is real sacrifice for the sake of love.
Christine Linde also sacrifices her honour and pride when she approaches Krogstad and apologies to him for her actions. She explains her reason for leaving him and asks him if they can come together as she feels empty and has no one to mourn for and no one to care for. Krogstad accept their proposal. This clearly brings Linde as a selfless person who is able to sacrifice for the sake of love and concern.
Ann sacrifices her comfort in order to take of Nora and later Nora’s Children. Anne leaves her own daughter behind and moves in with Nora’s family to become Nora’s nurse. Nora had no mother and Ann fitted in the gap with lots of love. Even Nora wonders how Ann had the heart to give up raising her own child in order to work but it is clear that Anne had to make this sacrifice in order to fend for her own family. She gladly takes care of Nora’s children and contends herself with letters from her daughter on important occasions such as her wedding.
In conclusion, it is clear that a person who loves and is concerned about another becomes selfless and goes to any extent to prove this as brought out in the essay.
8. Using illustrations from the ‘A Doll’s House’ by Henrik Ibsen, Show how lies and deceit are exposed in the play (20mks)
Whenever people find themselves in a difficult situation, they use lies to cover up for their actions. This is clearly potrayed by Henrik Ibsen in his play ‘A Doll’s House’.
As the play begins, Nora behaves like an obedient and honest wife. However, this is not her real character.