A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen Essay

Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is a 19th century realist play that was the first of its kind to analyze women’s roles in the typical household in such a stressed manner. Ibsen created this play for his audiences to become observers to observe his characters interact. As the play progresses, it is apparent that the characters mingle with one another in a very childish manner. Ibsen uses this childlike action in A Dolls House in order to convey the image that he sees to the observers. Ibsen uses childishness in the characters of A Dolls House to compare gender roles in 19th century Europe and ridicule the common household marriage of his day.

A Doll’s House is based around the relationship of Torvald Helmer, the chief of a local bank, and his wife, Nora. The foolishness in the relationship between the two is evident early on. “Is that my little lark twittering out there” (Ibsen 1), said Torvald to Nora. By the use of the pet name “little lark”, it is clear that Torvald does not have an incredible amount of respect for his wife, and her response “Yes, it is!” (Ibid) shows that Nora has little respect for herself as well. The quotes show the insincere passion the two characters have for each other. Torvald uses other pet names for Nora throughout the play like “little squirrel,” (Ibsen 2), “featherhead,” (Ibid), “Miss Sweet Tooth,” (Ibsen 4), “spendthrift,” (Ibid) and “little person” (Ibid). Torvald’s use of pet names and insincere compliments show an inequality between the spouses. Each of these names show Torvald’s incredible lack of respect for Nora and creates a sense that Nora is less of a wife and more of pet, toy, or doll to Torvald.

On page 2, Torvald takes Nora “playfully by the ear,” again demonstrating the relation…

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…ss. She does what she deems best and leaves her husband and kids.

In A Doll’s House, the characters are simplified into childish representations that are motivated only by self-interest; George Orwell would be proud. The metaphor of a doll house is effective in Ibsen’s satire of the typical European marriage of the 19th century. Ibsen’s parallels between the Helmer household and an actual dolls house gives the play more depth, and the thought of women being treated like pets was effectively ridiculed. The characters’ immaturity is a subtle twist to this play that enables it to get Ibsen’s point across in a unique way; through his characters’ childishness, Ibsen gets the point across that the average housewife did not deserve to be treated like property with no respect.

Works Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. Mineola, N.Y.|: Dover Publications,, 1992. Print.

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