A House in Ruins
In Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”, the subject most important to the story is marriage. “Until death do us part” well, not always. Everywhere one looks, divorce is plaguing society. The treasured marriage vows have become nothing but a promise made to be broken. A Doll’s House is a prime example of a relationship that didn’t work. To keep a marriage alive and well it must hold onto certain qualities: love, communication, trust and loyalty. With these qualities, any marriage is bound to work.
Without love a relationship would never even begin. The basis for Nora and Torvald’s relationship appears to be centered around love, but this was not exactly obtained. Torvald doesn’t really love Nora in a mature way; he just looks at her as another child. He has many nicknames for his wife including “lark” and “squirrel” which are small animals and used as symbols of foreshadowing. By using these symbols, Torvald looks at his wife as being smaller than himself and therefore easy to control. He always refers to Nora as my something. “Is that my little lark twittering out there?” and “Is it my little squirrel bustling about?” (438) He emphasizes the my’ which makes him think that he owns his wife and he is in control of her. Calling his wife names such as skylark’, squirrel’, and spendthrift’, Torvald does not love his wife with the respect and sensitivity a man should. He gives Nora an allowance but thinks she spends it frivolously. “What are little people called that are always wasting money? It’s a sweet little spendthrift. One would hardly believe how expensive such little persons are” (439) Here, Nora is referred to as a small subordinate creature once again. Torvald is so concerned about…
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… for his wife.
Nora and Torvald’s marriage fails because they lack in all of the qualifications for a successful marriage and because of Torvald’s control over his family. Before Nora leaves, she tells Torvald,
“But our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa’s doll-child; and here the children have been my dolls. I thought it great fun when you played with me, just as they thought it great fun when I played with them. That is what our marriage has been, Torvald.” (491)
Nora wants change. Marriage is a two-way street and in order to ensure a wonderful and happy life together, any sort of doll house must be torn down.
Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House.” Literature the Human Experience. Shorter 8th Ed. Eds. Richard Abcarian and Marvin Klotz. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins. 2004. 437-495.