12th Grade Honors English Reading Assignment

Senior Honors English Summer 2015 Reading Assignment:
Setting the Stage for Themes and Essential Questions
 Anton Chekov. The Seagull. in: Chekov: The Essential Plays. Trans. Michael Heim. Modern
Library Classics, 2003.
Henrik Ibsen. A Doll’s House, published by Literary Touchstone Classics Edition. 2005.
OR: A Doll’s House. Dover Thrift Edition. 1992.
We will be reading and discussing both plays by Anton Chekov and Henrik Ibsen, who address
themes that we will encounter, especially as we study the literature and ideas of the early 20th
century. Please read these plays again, even if you are familiar with or have already read
them! Below are questions to guide your reading and start our class discussions. There is no
minimum word-count, but be complete and thoughtful in your answers for each question. Please
type and use a standard Humanities Department format; include page numbers from the texts
to support your ideas.
Due: Plan to have this completed for the 1st day of classes, Friday, September 11.
1. Character-Sketch: Choose one character from either The Seagull or A Doll’s House and trace
his or her “story” through the play. Write a brief characterization that addresses your
character’s history, appearance, motivation, thinking, development, and language. Make sure
to find specific scenes and lines that will flesh out the characterization.
2. What are Nora’s crimes? Choose the role of either prosecutor or defense attorney and make a
brief argument of her guilt or innocence. You may choose to do this for Torvald Helmer
3. At the time of its publication and performance in the 1880’s, A Doll’s House created quite a
scandal. For its Berlin performance, Ibsen was required to change the ending; while he
complied, he considered that “an act of barbarous violence against the play.” Discuss why this
play would have been seen as morally and socially unacceptable. Include your thoughts as to
why (or why not) this play continues to speak to contemporary audiences.
4. What does The Seagull have to say about art and being an artist?
5. In what ways is Chekov’s play a comedy? In what ways is it a tragedy?
6. Briefly compare and contrast the main female characters in each of the plays (Ibsen’s Nora
Helmer and Kristina Linde vs. Chekov’s Nina and Arkadina).
If you have any questions while working on this assignment, please email me at
[email protected]