The play was controversial when first published in 1879, as it is sharply critical of 19th century marriage norms. It is often called the first true feminist play. The play is also an important work of the naturalist movement, in which real events and situations are depicted on stage in a departure from previous forms such as romanticism.
A Doll's House traces the awakening of Nora Helmer from her previously unexamined life of domestic, wifely comfort. Having been ruled her whole life by either her father or her husband Torvald, Nora finally comes to question the foundation of everything she has believed in once her marriage is put to the test. Having borrowed money from a man of ill-repute named Krogstad by forging her father's signature, she was able to pay for a trip to Italy to save her sick husband's life (he was unaware of the loan, believing that the money came from Nora's father). Since then, she has had to contrive ways to pay back her loan, growing particularly concerned with money and the ways of a complex world.
Based on Michael Meyer's version of the text, the maid, the nurse and the children have disappeared in ATC's adaptation.
Photograph by Peter Mares