Online Learning of A Doll’s House, Day 4

Goals for the Week:

  1. Draft a personal working definition of feminism. Due Friday, March 20th
  2. Read and analyze act I of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen.
  3. Read and analyze act II of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen.

Today’s Checklist:

  1. Read the first half of act II of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen from the beginning of the act to when Dr. Rank enters, again)
  2. Consider Nora’s conflict with Krogstad.
    • How is Krogstad blackmailing Nora? What does he want Nora to do? Why is Nora playing into it?
  3. Reflect on how Nora is changing.
    • At the beginning of the play, Nora was flighty, ditzy, and childish. Now she’s acting scared, anxious, and she seems to care a lot less about costume parties. What is driving this change?

Today’s Lesson!

Today’s video is a little longer than usual because it’s a 2-for-1 special! Mr. Mellman and Mrs. Bristow collaborate for our literary discussion!

Special guest stars include, Callie, Liam, and Memphis the cat!

Standard: ELAGSE9-10RL3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

Learning Target: I can understand a dynamic female character by reading A Doll’s House and listening to a discussion so that I can analyze how a Nora develops over the course of the play.

Activator: I’ve mentioned before that A Doll’s House is considered the first work of feminist literature. One of the things that makes the play uncommon is that it has a female protagonist, or main character.  For our activator today, I want you to try this exercise:

  • Set a timer for one minute
  • Write down all the stories, books, movies, or TV shows you can think of with a female protagonist – this means the story is ABOUT her, not just she’s in it (so, The Lion King doesn’t count, because it’s not Nala’s story!)
  • How many did you get? Did you run out of ideas before your timer was up?

Now that the wheels are turning and we’re thinking about women in literature, let’s continue reading A Doll’s House and see how Nora is doing in Act II!

Work Session: 

Today you’re going to be reading the first half of Act II of A Doll’s House, beginning at the start of the act and ending when Dr. Rank enters (it’s just a coincidence that we stopped at his entrance during act I – apparently, he tends to enter halfway through the act).

While you’re reading, pay attention to Nora’s relationships with the other characters. Specifically, look at how she interacts with her husband, Torvald Helmer, and her friend, Christine Linde. Remember the questions from the checklist:

  1. Consider Nora’s conflict with Krogstad.
    • How is Krogstad blackmailing Nora? What does he want Nora to do? Why is Nora playing into it?
  2. Reflect on how Nora is changing.
    • At the beginning of the play, Nora was flighty, ditzy, and childish. Now she’s acting scared, anxious, and she seems to care a lot less about costume parties. What is driving this change?

One of the reasons why this play is considered to be feminist is because of how Nora grows over the course of the play. Look back at act I and consider Nora’s attitude and how she acted around her friends and her husband, and look at how she’s acting now at the halfway point in the play. Nora’s growth as a character, from flighty and childish to strong and independent, is a big part of why this is a feminist play. These kinds of characters are rare – think of the list you made in our opening session. Do those characters grow and change over their stories, or do they mostly stay the same?

We don’t have a written assignment today, but don’t forget your personal definitions of feminism are due on Friday! Remember, your definition doesn’t have to be long – just a few sentences or maybe a short paragraph. Use the examples from Monday’s post to guide you 🙂

Closing Session: Take a look at this article, The Problem With Female Protagonists. In it, the author says

We took all his novels out of his bookcase, and sorted them into three piles based on the protagonist’s gender: ensemble (eg. The Wishing Tree), male, and female. And that’s when I discovered something interesting. Despite my concerns that I’d overdone it with the girl characters, and despite my conscious intention to provide a 50/50 split, only 27% of his books have a female protagonist, compared to 65% with a male protagonist.

I want you to try this in your own house! Go to your bookshelf, or movie shelf, or digital library, or whatever, and count up the number of stories that have a female protagonist. Then, divide that number by the total number of stories to get your percentage of female protagonists. Comment here with your number! Did you do better or worse than 25%?

oh, you’re wondering about my shelves? I found 39 out of 218 books and movies had a female protagonist. That’s only about 18%! Yikes! -Bristow

On a book shelf of 540 books, we had about 30 fiction with female protagonists.  It is probably about 450 out of fiction… and I didn’t count any of the ones that I had not read… including a bunch  of the Margaret Atwood… which I assume has a female protagonist, but I am not sure. -Mellman [Ed. note: 30/450 is about 7%]

Looking Ahead: Tomorrow’s Checklist

If you want to get ahead on things, here is what we’re going to be doing tomorrow!

  1. Read the second half of act II of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen (from when Dr. Rank enters to the end of the act)
  2. Consider Nora’s relationship with Dr. Rank
    • What does Dr. Rank confess to Nora? Why does he tell her this? What is her reaction? Why does she react that way?
  3. Understand what’s going on with the blackmail situation.
    • Krogstad drops a letter in the mailbox. What does it say? What’s with Nora’s freak-out dancing? Why does Nora end the act saying “ Five o’clock. Seven hours until midnight; and then four-and-twenty hours until the next midnight. Then the Tarantella will be over. Twenty-four and seven? Thirty-one hours to live.”?

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