Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House Essay

In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House the main character, Nora Helmer, shows us the story of a woman who has borrow money without her husband’s consent in order to save his life. Although this noble act would be admired by most, Nora has to keep it a secret from Torvald Helmer, her husband, as he would see it as a betrayal. The measures that Nora takes in order to keep the loan a secret, create circumstances that bring Nora—whose only duty is to serve her husband— to discover that her life can be more than just being an accessory to her husband. She becomes her own self. In her struggle to keep the borrowed money from her husband’s knowledge Nora begins a transformation from dependence of Torvald, to being self-efficient, self-worthy, and self-independent—qualities women of her time lacked of—because all, such as Nora never displayed a mind of their own. At the end, when Nora’s secret is revealed to Torvald and his reaction is to condemn her for borrowing the money, Nora realizes that she no longer fears her husband’s reaction; she is no longer worried of keeping appearances of what society says she should be as a wife, and mother. The secret that Nora tries very hard to keep hidden, gives her the opportunity to discover herself as an individual, and what she is capable of doing regardless the constraints of society.

In fact, Nora’s first display of self-sufficiency happened when Torvald “fell deathly ill [and] the doctors said it was essential for him to travel south” (799) At the time Nora and Torvald did not count with money to make the trip, and knowing that Torvald would never agree to borrow money, Nora “was the one who raised the money” (801) She ingeniously managed to convince her husband to travel South without having to con…

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…She listened to Torvald ramble about her wrong doings and how embarrassing is for him, while “he never understood [her]” (842) With a determined look she tells him “I’ve been wronged greatly, Torvald—first by Papa, and then by you…I went from Papa’s hands into yours…Now when I look back, it seems as if I’d lived here like a beggar—just from hand to mouth. I’ve lived by doing tricks for you, Torvald” (843) Nora now knows all that she has ever done for her husband was out of duty; she had to behave a certain way because society dictated it that way. But the burden of keeping the loan a secret from her husband made her stronger; made her desire a position at equal footing as him “there has to be absolute freedom for [them] both” (846) Nora’s secret gave her the opportunity to discover herself as an individual and what she is capable of doing; she gain individualism.

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