Drama: A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen Case Study
As the play commences, Nora appears perfectly happy and she acts as if she was more of a child than wife to Torvald (Ibsen 2). She is apparently excited about the extra income that her husband’s job would bring to the family. In as much as she is treated as if she is a doll, it does not seem to bother her in the least. However, she is put in a difficult position when Krogstand blackmails her because of the laws she had broken to save her husband’s life and he realized he might be compromised.
In fact, he condemns her without regard to her efforts. She radically changes her nature and turns from a timid and submissive doll of a wife to a cold-hearted woman with bitterness enough to cause her to abandon her husband and children. The abandonment of the latter is even more unreasonable since they had played no role in the betrayal (Baseer, Alvi and Zafran 2). This begs the question regarding whether she was the architect of her problems or not.
In addition, it is relevant to ask whether she was a villain or victim of her circumstances. Given actions at the end of the play, she may appear to be a villain, but, in fact, she is a victim of her circumstances she was driven to her decision by the blackmail and betrayal of people whose actions she could not control.
A summary and an analytical abstract
Stephen Forward talks about the book as a revolutionary step for women in the 19th century and suggests that the critics rightfully enquired if dramatic walking out of Nora from her home was the end of the world or the beginning of a new one (Forward 24). Nora is presented as a paradox of sorts. The audience is left wondering if she is displaying fundamental selfishness and intransigence or only trying to retake control of her life outside the familiar context.
At the end of the day, Forward argues that she is triumphant and expressive, brave and uncompromising, but, at the same time, immoral, self-destructive and irresponsible as a parent (Forward 24). Finney insists that the assumption that Nora’s argument is too radical and he cites the line “I would never dream of doing anything you did not want me to…”, (Ibsen 34).
Evidently, despite all indications to the simplicity and childishness of Nora, she was a complicated woman and despite her desire to include her husband in everything she did, circumstances forced her to conceal a great deal and later it results in the ultimate falling out. Rutledge, in The Marrying Kind suggests that Ibsen introduced Nora to the audience not based on who she was, but the condition under which she lived (Rutledge 70).
For example, in the opening scene, she is shown secretly eating snacks and this gives the impression that she cannot enjoy her pleasures openly without facing the condescension of her husband. The character Nora portrays to the world is not really her true one and deep down as she reveals later; she is a reflective and determined woman who is capable of making radical decisions a far from the doll her husband would have himself believe her to be.
Fodstad posits that she is subjected to the wiles of her husband, who seems to believe that the man should be in charge of all financial matters, as well as anything weighty in the family. The woman is no more than a mother (Fodstad 149), and a sexual object to satisfy his desires and raise his children. He buys her a sexual costume and even encourages her to dance the tarantella in public that is a manifestation of his objectification of her.
At the heart of A Doll’s House, there is a great deal of deception, which brings out the diverse reality between fiction and reality as Ibsen tackles social problem, such as marriage and family. The dichotomy is evidenced in the historical context underlined by the Victorian repression of individuality through the economic power struggle, which results in Nora’s good attributes being overshadowed by the need for money and the consequence that come about.
Ibsen portrays the society and environment in which Nora exists as one that is unfriendly to women in general and uses Nora to epitomize the difficulties of an intelligent woman trying to transcend the chauvinism and prejudices, which women have to content with.
Literary analysis would help to critique and understand several aspects in the play (Roberts and Robert 23). Her efforts to save her husband require her to hide under a timid facade and even as she tries to gather money to pay back her debt, she has to do it secretly and this results in her husband’s perception of her as being extravagant. As Forward puts it, the fact that Nora walks out is an expression of a woman fed up with the condescension and finally condemnation seizing her freedom.
Although it has been argued that she was irresponsible as indeed she was, the question at hand is not on her morality, but the cause of her actions, which are undoubtedly motivated by the pressure she receives from her husband, the blackmailer, and society in general. She is aware that she will be judged harshly for her actions irrespective of the good intention.
Nora’s husband is the epitome of chauvinism that characterized men in his time, he is remarkably ungrateful considering that all the troubles Nora underwent were for his sake, and he did not waste a moment in condemning her in the vilest of terms. In addition, he shows himself to be a hypocrite when he suddenly wants to forgive her only because he has discovered there will be no consequences to him.
When Nora realizes that her husband is only willing to stand by her when he stands to lose nothing for his sake, a fact juxtaposed with her willingness to jeopardize her wellbeing, she is awake to their incompatibility. It dawns to her that she lives with someone who does not appreciate her love and he is only capable of loving her as his doll or mother and her decision to leave in light of this knowledge is hardly surprising.
The most overt proof of the circumstances that inform and in a way force her actions in combined “onslaught” from Krogstand and her husband, the former was supposed to protect her secret while the later was bound by the virtue of her relationship to stand by her.
In the play, Nora has no one to turn to in her hour of need, especially when her husband turns against her irrespective of her sacrifice. She is forced to accept the fact that her world will not see her as anything more than an object. Ultimately, she leaves it all behind and this justifies the assertion that circumstances outside her control largely motivated her decision to walk out.
Baseer, Abdul, Sofia Dildar Alvi, and Fareha Zafran. “The Use of Symbolic Language in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House: A Feministic Perspective.” Language in India 13.3 (2013). 1-5. Print.
Fodstad, Lars A. “Refurbishing the Doll’s House? The theatre programme as paratextual trace.” Ibsen Studies 6.2 (2006): 149-187. Print.
Forward, Stephanie. “A new world for women? Stephanie Forward considers Nora’s dramatic exit from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House”. The English Review 19.4 (2009): 24-30. Print.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. London, United Kingdom: A&C Black, 2013. Print.
Roberts, Edgar and Zweig Robert. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, Compact Edition (5th Edition). London, United Kingdom: Longman Publishers, 2011. Print.
Rutledge, Cynthia. The Marrying Kind. New York, NY: Harlequin, 2011. Print.
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