A Dolls House: Nora Essay

AN ANALYSIS OF NORA, THE MEN IN HER LIFE,

AND HER NAVIGATATION TO INDEPENDENCE

     The play, A Doll House, written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879, is considered a 

landmark in drama for its portrayal of realistic people, places, and situations. Ibsen 

confines his story to the middle class. He writes of a society that is limited not only by its means of livelihood but also its outlook. Ibsen portrays his characters  

as preoccupied with work and money, showing a reduction of values in and that lack of quality persons with morals. Ibsen takes this realistic story and invests it with 

universal significance. Wrapped up in the technique of this well constructed  play, Ibsen is masterful in his presentation of not only realism, but he holds a mirror up 

to the society of his day by using the male figures as catalysts for Nora’s ultimate 

knowledge of self-actualization. He accomplishes this with such precision

that the audience might not be aware all the subtleties that are creating their

theatrical experience.  

     In A Doll House, Nora forges the name of her father and risks damaging her 

husband’s good name.  Henrik Ibsen offers remarkable insight into the nineteenth 

century preoccupation with the family and the role of the father, and what role is projected upon those who are subjugated to him. This play takes up the subject of 

strong women and weak men within the plot. A prominent theme within this drama 

is the deterioration of the male, who is aware of his role as a “father figure”. This decomposition is observed by the female protagonist (Nora). It is this descent that the role of the father figure is shaped, while creating the catalyst for the catharsis

or change in Nora.       When the female protagonist challenges patriarchal authority, she does so 

by undermining in one form or another both the dominant male and his family name. The following analysis focuses on Nora’s ultimate realization that she must be an 

emancipated person to be her true self. Her navigation through the elements of 

crises are focused through the father-figures in her life. The journey towards her 

self-actualization and rising freedom can be found within her relationships with 

the men in her life. This ultimately identifies the relevant thematic elements 

that are pivo…

… middle of paper …

…he chooses instead to see 

herself as someone in process, in a state of becoming, rather than of having defined 

being. Nora discovers that because her own signature had no value, she had to take 

the name of the dead/absent father. Eventually realizing that she cannot escape the 

ghost or the name of the absent husband/father.  

     Thus, through Nora’s association and interaction with her father figures she, in a broader sense, hints at the possibility of a new dynamic for the family

and society as a whole. A time in which the person, no matter the gender, is allowed to sign for him or herself rather, than use the name of an father. In A Doll House Nora discovers herself disenfranchised and disembodied by her 

father’s/husband’s name. This only occurs by virtue of her inner resolve and the

inherit flaws Ibsen has given to the male characters of the play. She finally rejects  both her father and husband and affirms her ambition to write her own destiny.

Works Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House . Drama: A HarperCollins Pocket Anthology. ed. R. S.      Gwynn. New York: HarperCollins. 1993. 153-212.

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