Manipulation in A Doll House
The mark of a mature person is the ability to make rational decisions for oneself. Complicated choices are what make maturity so hard. Sometimes, even good intentions can lead to a bad decision. In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House, decision-making is clouded by the manipulation caused by certain characters. Blackmail, trickery, and tyranny, each a form of manipulation are all used to make seemingly positive decisions by the characters. These decisions lead to complicated situations for these characters where nothing is gained. Manipulation is a form of control over another person without either their consent or knowledge. Examining Torvald, Krogstad, and Nora, one can see that manipulation of others leads to irrational decisions for them.
Torvald is the typical husband of the time of the play. He tries to control his wife and expect her to submit to him. He manipulates her through many different ways. First, he calls her pet names such as “little lark” (3) and “squirrel” (4) and speaks to her in a condescending tone, as if she is a child. He then tries to control her habits so he will not let her eat sweets or spend too much money. In fact, all the money she gets comes from him. He demands that she is subservient and treats her as almost a dog later on in the play. At the end, when Nora’s secret is out, he lashes out at her and kicks her out of the house. When he wants her back after he realizes that he will no longer get into trouble for what she did, she does not want to come back, he finally realizes that she does not love him anymore and that his manipulation of her is over. This leaves him in a pickle because he now has to take care of his children without Nora, hardly a good position for him.
Krogstad is different from Torvald because he is not as well off economically and socially and this leads him to try an extremer form of manipulation. Krogstad is desperate to keep his job at the bank and tries to get Nora to secure the job with her husband through blackmail. Since he was once found to be forging documents, his reputation has been flaky, so in order to regain his reputation for his sons: “For their sake I must win back as much respect as I can in the town” (22), he needs to keep his job at the bank.