Historical background

Norwegian society in the 19th century

Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House reflects the profound changes in Norwegian society in the 19th century caused by the Industrial Revolution and the general economic boom. Many families at that time abandoned rural life and moved to the city to find a job. 

The classic division within the family, in which the woman was responsible for the household and the man for making ends meet can no longer be applied to the current context. In the play, for example, Christine deliberately comes to the city because it is the only place she can hope to find a good job: "That was why I could not stand the life in my little backwater any longer. I hope it may be easier here to find something which will busy me and occupy my thoughts." (Act 1, 32%).

One sign of the changes in Norwegian society is, among other things, the ever-increasing influence of capital city. The author was able to perceive the upheaval in Norwegian society during his student days in Oslo, but also from 1851 in Bergen, where he was employed as a theater teacher at the Norwegian National Theater. 

Norway's second largest city experienced rapid industrialization during this period, in which the role of banks and credit institutions became increasingly significant. Torvald's professional rise to the position of manager of a joint-stock bank in the play illustrates his social advancement. Nora is taken with the thought that her husband will receive greater power and prestige and will now have great influence on many people: "It’s perfectly glorious to think that we have—that Torvald has so much power over so many people" (Act 1, 55%).

Nevertheless, Norwegian society is somewhat behind in the Industrial Revolution by European standards. It is not until the late 1840s that the development of a modern transport...

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