Evaluation of Nora’s Life Purpose as Described in Henrik Ibsen’s Play, a Doll’s House
“Who She Wants to Be”
In the end of the “A Doll’s House”, Nora realizes that her father and husband has been controlling her all her life. A quote from a poem that I have read before really reminded me of the situation Nora is entrapped in. The quote read, “She is stuck between who she is, who she wants to be, and who she should be”. It struck me that Nora had a huge decision to make during their conversation. She did not know if she should leave behind her duties as a wife and mother, “who she should be”, as during that time period, women’s main focus was to take care of her family. Or abandon “who she is”, someone who has let others control who she is and someone who does not know who she is anymore. The third option, “who she wants to be”, is a fresh opportunity. Leaving her family would allow her to rediscover herself. During her conversation with Torvald, she is trapped between “who she is, who she wants to be and who she should be”. In the ending of “A Doll’s House”, Nora reveals how all her life, she has been a puppet to her father and husband as they played with her, pulling on her strings, making her act how they want her to act. After a series of eye-opening events, Nora quickly realizes how much she has let others dominant and take control over her. She finds out that even she does not know who she is anymore as her voice being drowned out by her husband and father. She realizes that she needs to focus more on figuring out who she is in order to make sure she has not yet lost her true self. She finally decides to leave everything behind to focus more on figuring out who she is as a person. Trapped between the different option, Nora ultimately decides that she needs to work on finding her true purposes in life and who she wants to be.
In the play, Nora falsified her father’s signature in order to loan money for a trip to Italy that would help cure her husband’s sickness. Many years later, the information on the forgery was written in a letter and delivered to her. After reading the letter Torvald, becomes filled with rage that his wife that he controlled so much did something against his will. Nora’s husband had always been in control of what Nora wears, does and buys also not liking her doing certain things, like eating macaroons. Torvald nearly burst out of anger that Nora did something that, although have been against the law, saved his life. After witnessing his reaction, she realizes that she “…acquired the same taste as [her husband]; or [she] only pretended to …” (182). An example of her doing something that her husband likes that she might not like to do is dancing. Before Torvald opens the letter, she danced the Tarantella in an extravagant dress for a crowd of people. It is not known if Nora actually enjoys doing it but it is clear that dancing is something Torvald enjoys. Nora may not actually like dancing in front of crowds but due to her being controlled by her husband and what she likes forced to match that of her husband, she dances for everyone at the party. Torvald’s response towards the letter revealing her forgery also reminds her of how when her father was still alive, “he told me all his opinions, and then I had the same opinions; and if I had others, I hid them; because he wouldn’t have liked it” (182). Her father forced her to believe what he thought was right, her voice and opinions only echoes of her father because if she spoke her true feelings aloud, her father would not like it. After doing that all her life, her true thoughts were unknown as all of her beliefs are what others forced onto her.
She always goes along with how others want her to behave and her husband forcing her to like the same things that he did. They played her as if she was a doll as they controlled her every aspect. Nora was not allowed to feel a certain way because it would upset her father and was not allowed to like a certain food or object because it would upset her husband. Because she was not allowed to think for herself, she lost her voice as every opinion she held was forced away into the dark. Nora figures out that all her life she has been hiding behind her father and husband’s shadows, sucking her into void where she no longer really knew who she was. This is so significant because Nora finally understands how much everyone has been taking control over her. She knows she has other duties, being a mother and a wife, but now understands that her duty as a human comes first. She finally realizes how much she was a doll to her father and husband and knows that is not who she wants to be. In the search for searching deeper within herself to figure out what her purpose and personality is, she makes the decision to leave her family for a while and to seek her inner self and “who she wants to be”.
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