A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen (PDF version of the play)
As pre-AP students, you need to begin considering literature from the thematic perspective of the College Board. In 1980 the open-ended question on the AP Literature and Composition exam asked:
"A recurring theme in literature is the classic war between a passion and responsibility. For instance, a personal cause, a love, a desire for revenge, a determination to redress a wrong, or some other emotion or drive may conflict with moral duty. Choose a literary work in which a character confronts the demands of a private passion that conflicts with his or her responsibilities. In a well-written essay show clearly the nature of the conflict, its effects upon the character, and its significance to the work."
A Doll's House is one such literary work to consider, so as we move through this play keep the above question in mind.
Choose one of the following quotes that you relate to in some way. Copy the quote and then explain either how you relate to it, how resonates with you, or what you think it means.
We will start with a few activities to get you thinking:
A BOY and his FATHER are in a horrible car accident. Each of them is picked up and taken to the hospital in an ambulance, but when the boy arrives in the emergency room, the DOCTOR enters and exclaims, "I can't operate on him. He's my son." How is this possible?
What are your associations with the words "doll" and "doll house"? You have two minutes to write down as many connotations as you can. Be ready to share.
Some Days by Billy Collins
Some days I put the people in their places at the table,
bend their legs at the knees,
if they come with that feature,
and fix them into the tiny wooden chairs.
All afternoon they face one another,
the man in the brown suit,
the woman in the blue dress,
perfectly motionless, perfectly behaved.
But other days, I am the one
who is lifted up by the ribs,
then lowered into the dining room of a dollhouse
to sit with the others at the long table.
but how would you like it
if you never knew from one day to the next
if you were going to spend it
striding around like a vivid god,
your shoulders in the clouds,
or sitting down there amidst the wallpaper,
staring straight ahead with your little plastic face?
Barbie Doll by Marge Piercy
This girlchild was born as usual
and presented dolls that did pee-pee
and miniature GE stoves and irons
and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy.
Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said:
You have a great big nose and fat legs.
She was healthy, tested intelligent,
possessed strong arms and back,
abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity.
She went to and fro apologizing.
Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs.
She was advised to play coy,
exhorted to come on hearty,
exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.
Her good nature wore out
like a fan belt.
So she cut off her nose and her legs
and offered them up.
In the casket displayed on satin she lay
with the undertaker's cosmetics painted on,
a turned-up putty nose,
dressed in a pink and white nightie.
Doesn't she look pretty? everyone said.
Consummation at last.
To every woman a happy ending.