New historicist use Henrik Ibsen’s letter

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How do you think a new historicist would use this letter to shed light on the relationship and marriage of the Helmers?


The topics will address the following learning outcomes: you will articulate an argument about the meaning and structure of the work and you will incorporate other critical strategies and approaches (ideas from the supplemental readings) to your analysis. Depending on which topic you choose, brings together the play, as well as Marxist readings, historical documents, and other critical approaches. In other words, you will be writing about the play, as well as analyzing the ideas presented in selected accompanying material. In addition to referencing and commentary, needs to include detailed discussion of passages of the play (explication, “close reading” ) to support your argument.

Choose one of the following:

1). On Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House: Consider whether “A Nineteenth-Century Husband’s Letter to His Wife” supports or challenges Witham and Lutterbie’s “A Marxist Approach to A Doll House.”  your argument will need to take into account Witham and Lutterbie’s discussion about human behavior and socioeconomic conditions and the circumstances and behaviors of characters from A Doll House. Does the relationship of Marcus and Ulrike, as portrayed in “A Nineteenth-Century Husband’s Letter to His Wife,” support or challenge their Marxist views of the characters’ behavior, and how does this also relate to the behavior of characters from A Doll House?

2). On Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House and the document “A Nineteenth-Century Husband’s Letter to His Wife.” Read the discussion on historical criticism in Chapter 55, “Critical Strategies for Reading” (pgs. 2038-39). How do you think a new historicist would use this letter to shed light on the relationship and marriage of the Helmers? Present a focused argument in which you compare the similarities and differences you find between Marcus and Torvald Helmer—do their tones differ?— taking into account what the letter may reveal about the time period.

3). On Hamlet: Compare Sandra K. Fischer’s view of Ophelia’s madness in “Ophelia’s Mad Speeches” with Joan Montgomery Byles’s treatment in “Ophelia’s Desperation.” Explain why you think they complement or contradict one another. needs to state whether the two work together, or present opposing explanations about Ophelia—is it possible that they can both be applied to the play, or no? How so, or why not? must use explication (“close reading”) of passages of the play to support your answer. (Note: as you can see, there are many interpretations of Ophelia’s behavior—both of these writers start by giving some views by other people, be sure that you are quoting the views of Byles and Fischer when you are comparing).

4). On Hamlet: In “Ophelia’s Desperation,” Joan Montgomery Byles considers how Ophelia’s “sense of self seems… defined and controlled by the men in her life.” Can Byles’ analysis of Ophelia’s place “embedded in Elizabethan sexist society” be applied to Gertrude, the other woman in the play? There are a number of aspects about Gertrude that can be addressed in this topic: be sure to have a focused argument, and that your argument is supported by “close reading” / explication of speeches from the play—do not just summarize the characters’ actions.

Length: 6-8 pages, double-spaced.


To fulfill the assignment,

  • 1). Present a clear, focused argument that invites inquiry.
  • 2). Include explication (“close reading”) of key passages to support your argument: Support your position with discussion and explication of the play.
  • 3). Demonstrate your understanding of the issues and positions
  • 4). Incorporate what you have learned from earlier about the use and explication of quotations for evidence. Don’t “pad”with unnecessary quotes, and if you are quoting, quotations need to be discussed in detail (explicate thoroughly).
  • 5). Quotes from Hamlet that are in lines should be treated as quotes of poetry when quoting in text. Check MLA format for a Shakespeare play.
  • 6). Follow MLA format, including: in-text citations, works cited, and overall presentation (page numbers, title, etc.)
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