Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is a 1878 play that explores the confining nature of social roles and expectations. The story follows Nora and her family as they attempt to navigate conflict, debt and familial life around the holiday season. One of the most notable moments in the play is the final scene, in which Nora tells her husband Torvald that she is leaving him in order to gain her freedom and create an identity for herself outside of her family obligations. The play ends as Nora makes her decision to leave, and slams the door behind her. Often regarded as “the door slam heard around the world”, Nora’s choice to leave her family can be regarded as a symbolic representation of women’s choice to leave behind the oppressive gender roles which prevent them from creating their own individual identity. On the other hand, Nora could be seen to abandon her family and run away from her problems. For both past and current audiences, the significance of the door slam in entirely subjective, as for each individual audience member it could create a wildly different emotional response.
Throughout his play, Ibsen uses character to create a performance that his audience can identify with. The characters within A Doll’s House are presented as flawed individuals,
and it is this connection which allows Ibsen to explore identity and personhood onstage. During its original production Nora’s door slam did not necessarily resonate with every member of the audience, as it was an incredibly shocking final moment of the play. Having a woman choose to leave her family went against the societal norms of the time, meaning that it ignited discussion and debate between patrons of the theatre. During the final scene Nora acknowledges that she is going a…
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Similarly, some women may feel a connection to Nora, as she is not only trying to do what is best for her, but also what is best for her children. Nora truly believes that she is unfit to be a mother, because of her lack of knowledge about herself and the world. Stating that the children are in “better hands” (231) when she leaves, Nora identifies that she can only start to be a good mother once she is truly confident in her own identity. On the other hand, for some women, the thought of leaving their families in unimaginable. As Nora leaves her children without telling them that she will not see them again, her act could be seen as selfish due to the fact that she abandons her children for her own gain.
In summary, the significance of Nora’s door slam is entirely dependant on the opinions and beliefs of the individual viewing it.