A Doll’s House. I: Historical and Social Context. II: Life of Ibsen. III: A Doll’s House. By Henrik Ibsen. Historical and Social Context. A Doll’s House was published in Norway on December 4 th , 1879. The first stage production was in Copenhagen on December 21 st , 1879.
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I: Historical and Social Context
II: Life of Ibsen
III: A Doll’s House
By Henrik Ibsen
Picture: Woman in formal gown, c. 1879 – Grands Magasins Pygmalion, Summer Catalog 1879
Ideals: Financial Success, upward social mobility, freedom from financial debt and moral guilt, and a stable, secure family organized along traditional patriarchal lines.
Patriarchal ideals were supported and reinforced by a social structure in which women had little overt political or economic power. They were economically, socially, and psychologically dependent upon men and especially dependent upon the institutions of marriage and motherhood.
Picture: Mother and Two Children by Mary Cassatt
Motherhood within marriage was considered a woman’s highest possible achievement. It was a social responsibility, a duty to the state, and thus, a full-time job. Mothering was no longer something that came naturally, but was something that had to be learned. High infant mortality rates, particularly in urban areas, were unilaterally blamed on mothers. Working class mothers were labeled neglectful, when in truth they struggled with both child care and feeding a family.
A Victorian mother, pushing a pram
The Ideal Woman
'... her ardent and unceasing flow of spirits, extreme activity and diligence, her punctuality, uprightness and remarkable frugality, combined with a firm reliance on God ... carried her through the severest times of pressure, both with credit and respectability ...' (The General Baptist Repository and Missionary Observer, 1840).
Victorian husband and wife
Numerous publications were written to instruct women on how to be good wives and household managers.
'She [the housewife] is the architect of home, and it depends on her skill, her foresight, her soft arranging touches whether it shall be the "lodestar to all hearts", or whether it shall be a house from which husband and children are glad to escape either to the street, the theatre, or the tavern.' (The Christian Miscellany and Family Visitor, 1890).
Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861), remained a bestseller for over 50 years.
Victorian bride and groom, 1895
Victorian Wedding Party (date unknown).
Widowhood and Mourning
“A heartless wife who, instead of being grieved at the death of her husband, is rejoiced at it, should be taught that society will not respect her unless she pays to the memory of the man whose name she bears that "homage which vice pays to virtue," a commendable respect to the usages of society in the matter of mourning and of retirement from the world,” (Harper’s Bazaar, April 17, 1886).
“As for periods of mourning, we are told that a widow's mourning should last eighteen months, although in England it is somewhat lightened in twelve,” (Harper’s Bazaar, April 17, 1886).
Typical mourning dress (Harper’s Bazaar, April 17, 1886).
Henrik Johan Ibsen
“I prefer to ask; ‘tis not my task to answer.”
Three Phases of Ibsen’s Work
Det Kongelige Teater in Copenhagen where the play was first performed in December of 1879.
Critics and Ibsen
Cast of Characters
Betty Hemmings as Nora Helmer
Emil Poulsen as Torvald Helmer
Cast of Characters
Agnes N. Dehn as Mrs. Linde
Sophus Peterson as Nils Krogstad
Cast of Characters
Louise Phister as Anne Marie with children (uncredited)
Peter W. Jerndoff as Dr. Rank