Characters Portrayals In A Doll’s House

May 19, 2022 by Essay Writer

Many audience members go to plays to get out of their homes for a few hours, and to experience an older form of performance art. Some go simply for the emotions that live actors can portray, such as drama and romance without thinking of the deeper meanings and portrayals of different aspects of the play. For the author of the play there is almost always a deeper meaning to many of the details within their works beyond what is shown. A Doll House is a three-act play written by Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian author with an interest in women’s right, and was published in Norway in 1879. In his play, Ibsen portrays all human beings as broken each in their own individual ways through the characterization of each character.

Torvald is insecure about money and appearance so much that it affects his relationship with his wife Nora. The first scene of the play introduces the audience to the characters beginning with Torvald meeting his wife Nora when she comes home from shopping for Christmas and they start speaking about money, which causes Torvald to get upset about her spending money on Christmas and her view’s on debts. Throughout the duration of the play we continue to see Torvald’s obsession with money and appearance through his actions and his words especially towards Nora. In act 3, Torvald does not take time to think before lashing out at Nora calling her many awful things after reading Krogstad’s initial letter about Nora’s loan and forgery of her father’s signature. Then, after receiving Krogstad’s second letter he thinks only of himself until Nora asks Torvald if she is saved from ruin as well. In Act one, Nora knows that they are about to be in a very comfortable financial situation with Torvald’s promotion and suggests that they make Christmas the nicest they have had by borrowing money if necessary to which Torvald goes off saying “Nora, Nora, you are a woman! No really! You know how I feel about that. No debts! A home in debt isn’t a free home, and if it isn’t free it isn’t beautiful. We’ve managed so far, you and I, that’s the way we’ll go on. It won’t be much longer” (Ibsen pg. 1129-1130; act 1). Torvald obviously feels the need to raise his voice, belittle, and ignore Nora’s view when money is involved which is not a healthy way to communicate his feeling and concerns about their financial state and savings especially with his wife. The approach Torvald uses when speaking to Nora proves that he is insecure and believes that she could never understand the value of money or have a mind beyond that of a young girl obsessed with nice things and spending money. According to Stephanie Forward, “Torvald has absolute, patriarchal control over the household; and the fisher-girl costume, which could be interpreted as implying a repressed but passionate personality.” (Forward 2009).

Kristine Linde, Nora’s friend, is conniving and only comes to visit Nora because she wants something from Nora. Kristine is speaking with Nora about Torvald getting a new job with the bank and Kristine is complaining to Nora about how difficult her life has been especially after her husband’s death. In act 3 while taking to Krogstad downstairs in the Helmer’s home during a Christmas party, Kristine convinces Krogstad to not ask Torvald for his initial letter back but to let everything Nora has done come out into the open of Nora and Torvald’s marriage and Kristine uses Krogstad’s emotions to gain status and comfort in society. In Act 1, Kristine Linde is speaking to Nora, and Kristine gets snippy with Nora because she believes that everything is handed to Nora and then tries to guilt Nora into feeling horrible for her by saying “dear Nora, don’t you be angry with me. That’s the worst thing about my kind of situation: you become so bitter. You’ve nobody to work for, and yet you have to look out for yourself, somehow. You’ve got to keep on living, and so you become selfish. Do you know- when you told me about your husband’s new position I was delighted not so much for your sake as for my own” (Ibsen pg. 1135-1136; act 1). Kristine comes to Nora asking for Nora to speak to Torvald about possibly getting her a job at the bank, he has recently become a bank manager at a well know bank, not to catch up with an old friend who she has not seen in many years. These actions and words prove that Kristine cares only about the betterment of herself and increasing her comfort in any way possible, including making Krogstad believe that she still has feeling for him after so many years apart and a previous marriage and according to Wang “ this different way of viewing Kristine as a calculating predator emphasizes the complexities of the play and reveals Henrik Isben’s tentative probing into an ideal society.”

Krogstad is a very scared and vengeful individual that realizes he has power over a woman who is married to a man with the power to fix his situation. Krogstad comes to the Helmer’s home when he knows that Torvald is not there in order to blackmail Nora, who took a loan form him and forged a signature, because he believes that Torvald’s new position at the bank puts his job in jeopardy because of his past transgressions. When Nora tells Krogstad that she tried to save his job, but failed, Krogstad plants a seed in her mind that Nora’s husband Torvald does not love her enough to help her take care of this blackmail situation that Krogstad has put her in. Krogstad shows up to the Helmer’s home, after seeing that Torvald was not home, to blackmail and threaten to expose Nora’s act of forgery to the world saying “that may be. But business-the kind of business you and I have with one another-don’t you think I know something about that? Very well. Do what you like. But let me tell you this: if I’m going to be kicked out again, you’ll keep me company. (He bows and exits through the front hall.)” (Ibsen pg. 1148; act 1). Krogstad follows through with his threat when he is fired by Torvald right before Christmas causing marital discord between Torvald and Nora that even an apology letter and the return of Nora’s loan document could not fix. Krogstad believes that he is entitled to his good name that was taken from him due to his own previous actions and the possibility of losing the only good job he could get afterwards makes him scared and vengeful enough to make the life of a woman, Nora, who is seen in their society as his lesser by a landslide as she could not even take a loan with the permission of either her husband or father miserable. Krogstad continues to blackmail Nora until Kristine offers herself as a wife to Krogstad which is unbelievable to him because “the figure the pure and self-sacrificing woman had become no more than a well-worn cliché by the time Isben wrote A Doll’s House is made clear in Krogstad’s suspicious reaction to Mrs.Lind’s offer of marriage: ‘I don’t believe in this. It is nothing but a high-stung woman’s sense of nobility, driving her to sacrifice herself.” (Moi 2006 p. 256).

These three characters are prime examples of Ibsen’s portrayal of human beings as broken individuals through characterizations within his play A Doll House.

Ibsen’s play A Doll House demonstrates the importance of establishing a respectful and equal relationship in which individuals can speak openly with one another with no fear of how the other individual will reach especially to touchy or sensitive topics such as money. A Doll House still has a fairly large relevance in today’s society. The message of A Doll House seems to be that everyone had their own flaws and broken pieces that need to be addressed in order to form and maintain healthy relationships. The most significant reflection, I have had while working with A Doll House is that absolutely no one is perfect, even if they may appear to be and it is important to address things that severely bother you early on in a relationship so that you can avoid wasting the time of yourself and others.

Work Cited

  1. Forward, Stephanie. ‘A new world for women? Stephanie Forward considers Nora’s dramatic exit from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.’ The English Review, vol. 19, no. 4, 2009, p. 24+. Literature Resource Center, athena.jeffersonstate.edu:2048/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=LitRC&sw=w&u=avl_jeff&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA196227179&asid=272a995b69cede3f926ede3c76ff0bb6. Accessed 26 June 2017.
  2. Isben, Henrik. A Doll House. Perrine’s Literature: Dtructure, Sound, and Sense, edited by Greg Johnson and Thomas R. Arp, Thirteenth Edition, Cengage, 2018, pp. 1128-1187.
  3. Moi, Toril. “’First and Foremost a Human Being’: Idealism, Theatre, and Gender in ‘A Doll’s House.’” Modern Drama, vol. 49, no. 3, Fall 2006, p.256. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edb&AN=23224459&site=eds-live.
  4. Wang, Quan. “Before Marriage, Within Marriage, and After Marriage – Kristine Linde in A DOLL HOUSE.” Explicator, vol. 74, no. 2, Apr. 2016, p. 69 EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00144940.2016.1169494.

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