Essay on Lies and Self-realization in A Doll’s House

Lies and Self-realization in A Doll’s House


In Ibsen’s play,  A Doll’s House,  the characters willingly exist in a situation of untruth or inadequate truth that conceals conflict.  Nora’s independent nature is in contradiction to the tyrannical authority of Torvald.  This conflict is concealed by the way they both hide their true selves from society, each other, and ultimately themselves.  Just like Nora and Torvald, every character in this play is trapped in a situation of untruth.

“A Doll’s House”, can be misinterpreted as simply an attack on the religious values of Ibsen’s society.  While this is certainly an important aspect of the play, it is not, however, Ibsen’s main point.  “A Doll’s House” established a method Ibsen would use to convey his views about individuality and the pursuit of social freedom.  The characters of “A Doll’s House” display Henrik Ibsen’s belief that although people have a natural longing for freedom, they often do not act upon this desire until a person or event forces them to do so.

Readers can be quick to point out that Nora’s change was gradual and marked by several incidents.  A more critical look reveals these gradual changes are actually not changes at all, but small revelations for the reader to see Nora’s true independent nature.  These incidents also allow the reader to see this nature has been tucked far under a facade of a happy and simple wife.  In the first act, she admits to Christine that she will “dance and dress up and play the fool” to keep Torvald happy (Ibsen).  This was Ibsen’s way of telling the reader Nora had a hidden personality that was more serious and controlling.  He wants the reader to realize that Nora was not the fool she allows herself to be seen as.  …

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…in A Doll’s House is the importance of the individual and the search for self-realization. 


Works Cited

Brunsdale, Mitzi. “Herik Ibsen.”  Critical Survey of Drama.  Ed.  Frank N. Magill.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ:  Salem Press 1986. pg982.

Clurman, Harold.  Ibsen.  Macmillan, 1977, pg223.  Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism.  Ed. Sharon K. Hall. Vol. 8.  Detroit:  Gale, 1982. pg154.

Heiberg, Hans. 1967. Ibsen. A Portrait of the Artist. Coral Gables, Florida: University of Miami.

Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House.” Perrine’s Literature.  Forth Worth:  Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1998.  pp. 967-1023

Shaw, Bernard.  “A Doll’s House Again.”  The Saturday Review, London, Vol. 83, No. 2168, May 15, 1897:  539-541.  Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. 

Ed.  Sharon K.  Hall.  Vol. 8. Detroit:  Gale, 1982. pg.143.


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