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Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for “A Doll’s House”
- Compare how gender is portrayed in Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” to the role of women in the 21st century.
- Compare “A Doll’s House” and “Othello” focusing on characters who use questionable judgment.
- Compare appearance with reality in “A Doll’s House.”
- Compare and contrast Nora and Krogstad, Nora and Kristine, or Krogstad and Torvald.
- Write about the role of women in marriage at the end of the 19th century comparing the book “The Storm” with “A Doll’s House.”
- Compare youthful characters in “Oliver Twist,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “A Doll’s House,” and the poem “The Chimney Sweeper.”
- Compare and contrast the relationship between Krogstad and Mrs. Linde to the relationship between Nora and Torvold.
- Compare and contrast the role of deception in “A Doll’s House” and “The Importance of Being Earnest” in light of the statement, “Little by little, doubt stirs and awakens!”
- Compare “A Doll’s House” and “Antigone.”
- Compare the usage of a feminist critical approach, and explore the space where class and gender meet with moral and ethical responsibility in Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” and Glaspell’s “Trifles.”
- How is Nora a victim? How is she at fault for what she does? Compare a real-life situation from current events to Nora’s situation.
- Compare and contrast a major theme in “A Doll’s House” and “The Sorrows of Young Werther.”
- Compare the play “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen and “Sure Thing” by David Ives.
- Compare manipulation in “Lolita” and “A Doll’s House.”
- Compare drama with theme and characterization in “A Doll’s House” and “Mulatto.”
Discussion Essay Topics for A Doll’s House
- Discuss what you believe to be the theme of “A Doll’s House.”
- Discuss the significance of the nicknames Torvald has for Nora. What do they imply as to the way Torvald views his wife?
- Discuss the use of symbolic objects in “A Doll’s House.”
- Choose a common theme, such as marriage, death, conflict, male/female relationships, reality vs. illusion, freedom/oppression, or justice, and use that theme to discuss the topic using “A Doll’s House” with a debatable, analytical thesis statement with key points.
- Discuss the role of one or more of the minor characters (i.e. anyone other than Nora or Torvald) in “A Doll’s House.” You might consider such things as how the minor characters function to advance the plot, illuminate the main characters, or reinforce a theme.
- Discuss the psychology of either Nora or Torvald.
- How does Henrik Ibsen through the characterization of Torvald portray the stereotypical macho man?
- How does the role of family in “A Doll’s House” show Ibsen’s sympathies toward the limitations of women in bourgeois society at that time?
- Discuss Nora’s decision to leave her family and pursue her own fulfillment.
- Discuss Nora’s development as a character over the course of the play. How does she seem at the beginning? How is she different by the end? What do you think causes this change?
- How is symbolism portrayed through the character of Nora and Torvald?
- Discuss social roles in the Victorian era and in relation to “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen.
- Discuss outcasts in society in “A Doll’s House.”
- Victims or heroes? Discuss characters in terms of their behavior and consequences. What larger picture do they serve?
- Marital issues: trust, money, raising children, sex. Discuss these issues in domestic drama.
- Why does Torvald constantly reprimand Nora for her wastefulness and foolishness while simultaneously supporting her behavior? What insight does this contradiction give us into Torvald and Nora’s relationship?
Argumentative Essay Topics
- Role of women in society then and now: Could there be a Nora today?
- In what ways does Mrs. Linde provide a contrast to Nora in “A Doll’s House”?
- What was Ibsen saying about marriage? What was he saying about human rights? Is this merely a drama about women’s rights?
- How is “A Doll’s House” related to the humanities?
- What symbols did Isben use to reinforce themes not only for symbolic objects and actions, but also the symbolic character Dr. Rank?
- At the end of the play, Nora tells Torvald that she must leave because “the most wonderful thing” didn’t happen. What is this “wonderful thing,” and why does it not happening make Nora decide not to commit suicide?
- How does the play offer a critique of Victorian society and reflect modernism?
- Trace the theme of familial corruption in the play. Which characters exemplify it? In what ways does the theme affect Nora’s decision to leave her family?
- How and where does Mrs. Linde use the word “wreckage,” and what does it have to do with Nora and Helmer’s relationship at the end of the play?
- What are the devices of language used, such as poetic devices, diction, syntax, form/structure, imagery, meter, rhyme, sound, irony, characterization, symbolism, paradox, etc.? How do they affect your thematic reading of the piece?
- Three reasons why Nora shouldn’t have left.
- What is the hidden side of Nora – the side she hides from her husband, Torvald?
- How does a disease function as a means to explore characters’ understanding of themselves and of other characters? What social issues are revealed through diseased individuals?
- What does Nora’s final action (slamming the door) represent?
- What does Nora do the day after she leaves her family?
Persuasive Essay Topics
- What do you think Nora (or Ibsen through her) means by “true marriage”?
- How are Nora and Torvald evaluated? How does her attractiveness affect Nora’s character and her relationship with Torvald?
- What crime did Nora commit? Why did she do it? Why didn’t she understand the consequences?
- Why did Nora not discuss the problem of the loan with Torvald?
- What act of heroism did Nora expect from Torvald? What did Nora intend to do to make amends?
- Why does Nora leave at the end? What problems does she see with herself, with Torvald, and their marriage?
- When Torvald asks if they can’t hope to get back together, Nora says, “Both you and I would have to be so changed that… our life together would be a real wedlock.” Explain what she means by “real wedlock.”
- What is the connection between Mrs. Lende’s arrival and Nora’s awakening?
- Is the description of Nora as a child valid?
- What does Torvald’s fascination with beauty tell about his personality?
- How is the word “freedom” used in “A Doll’s House”?
- Is Ibsen’s drama “dated”?
- How does the first act forewarn the audience of almost all the forthcoming events in the rest of the drama?
- When is Ibsen able to “externalize” inner problems by using effective symbols?
- What are the life-views of Torvald?
Useful Information About the Play
Written in the mid 1870s, Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House” was called by critics as a “new dramaturgy.” What was new in this play? First, the play is a display of the present day (of its time) and of living people, not historical characters. Secondly, it demonstrates the exposure of the soullessness of bourgeois society with its preaching of egoistic individualism.
This was innovation in terms of content. In the field of form, Ibsen rejected the traditional methods of constructing a stage play (that is, convenient for staging). In such a play, conflict is a struggle between positive and negative characters. It is revealed in the form of intrigue and ends, as a rule, with a “happy ending.”
For Ibsen, the conflict consists of the collision of a character with a hostile reality, which suppresses or cripples the spirit. The main thing here is not intrigue, but the identification of the causes of certain actions and the disclosure of the character’s inner world. The opening consists of events that happened before the beginning of the play.
The content of the drama consists of an analysis of the catastrophe that befell the protagonist (“recognition of the truth”), as well as the analysis of thoughts and feelings that arise as a reaction to this recognition. In addition, Ibsen refused theatrical elevation of speech, traditional monologues, and conditional cues addressed directly to the audience.
He replaced all this with a lively, expressive colloquial speech. The author sought naturalness and ease of behavior of the characters, forced to abandon external effects, replacing them with expressive details. These details became poetic images that helped to reveal the main idea of the drama.
Creating a “new drama,” Ibsen made clear composition for it. In his best plays, he revived the principles of ancient drama (the unity of place, time, and action as a single concept) in a new quality. In 1879, Ibsen wrote one of his best plays, “A Doll’s House,” by the example of which the origin of new drama can be traced.
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