Henrick Ibsen’s A Doll’s House Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Oct 12th, 2018


Drama is defined as a composition in verse or prose which expresses views on a critical subject through actors who take the position of the characters as they perform the action. It is a serious work of art intended for theatrical performance. There are many renowned dramatists who have produced compelling pieces of drama with intentions of passing across serious messages. The messages passed across in dramatic works are in literary language referred to as the themes.

Dramatic plays are usually comprised of more than one theme being. Among the most famous dramatists in the world is Henrick Ibsen who was born in Norway in 1828. Ibsen led unhappy life as a child causing him to be described as antisocial. During his writing career, he produced many dramatic works among them A Doll’s House. This text epitomizes how dramatic artists create works of art with the intentions of expressing different themes. Henrick Ibsen’s A Doll’s House brings out various themes.

Themes in A Doll’s House


Gender is one of the themes that Henrick Ibsen explores in the text A Doll’s House. This text highlights the different ways through which women are looked at and the roles they are assigned in society as family makers. One of the characters in the play, Torvald holds a narrow view of what women should do in society.

He is convinced that a woman has an obligation of playing the role of a caring and mother and wife. In addition, he explains to Nora that women are responsible for shaping the behaviors of their children. In a nutshell, his perception of women is that they are naive people who have no touch with reality but who nevertheless have a great role to play in providing moral sobriety through their influence in homes.

The idea of being a man is also evident in the text though not explicitly. Nora describes Torvald in a way that ascertains her partial awareness of the challenges both men and women face in society as they execute their roles. Torvald has his own perception of being a man and thinks that a man should be entirely independent. This compelling urge to remain independent may alienate him and make him disregard the interdependence nature of human beings.

Nora’s father is mentioned quite often in the play, a fact that makes him equal to his daughter because of the deeds of the daughter. Nora was responsible for the money they spend for their trip in Italy although many people on the contrary think the money came from the father. Nora is equally decisive although many people seem not to agree with it and she has the privilege of accessing what is deemed to be reserved for men. She is aware of the limitations she faces simply because she is a woman.

Family and Parental Obligations

The role of parents in a family is another theme explored in this play. Dr. Rank, Torvald and Nora believe that parents are expected to be people of high integrity. They opine that a parent’s immoral traits are transferred to the children the same way diseases are transmitted. Dr. Rank is suffering from a disease that is attributed with the misconduct of his father. He perceives his contraction of the disease as a result of his father’s involvement with many women.

He is therefore bearing the brunt of the gross misconduct of his father. Torvald seems to argue that the moral character of a child is highly determined by the parents. To confirm his proposition, he tells Nora ‘Nearly all young criminals had lying mothers.’ (Mcmahan, Day and Funk 45). He does also do not want the interaction of Nora with the children after discovering that she tells lies. This he does to ensure that Nora does not influence the children negatively.

Despite the filial obligation associated with parents to their children, the play also advises that children should also take care of their parents. Nora is brought out as having seen the importance of this but decided not to honor it since she stuck to her ailing husband instead of finding time to be with her father.

Mrs. Linde did the opposite by shunning all her ambitions to remain with her sick mother. Ibsen does not say who between these two women should be condemned but uses this scenario to show that family roles are complex and that they are expected from both sides.

Delusion of Appearances

Appearances in this play deprive the characters of their capacity to perceive reality hence they act in the wrong ways. From the start of the play, Nora is portrayed as a foolish woman but as the play goes on she turns out to be an intelligent and focused lady. Torvald is initially portrayed as a dependable husband but later we learn that he is a coward for he fears being involved in a scandal.

Krogstad turns out to be sympathetic, a quality he did not exhibit before. The end of the play is a moment of unraveling the hidden identities of the characters. There also seems to be hate between Mrs. Linde and Krogstad but this later turns to be love (Mcmahan, Day and Funk 20).


Henrick Ibsen has succeeded in bringing out various themes in his play A Doll’s house. The essay has explored how effectively the theme of gender is presented in the play. Both men and women in the play have varied perceptions of gender. For instance, Torvald perceives women as weak people who cannot offer any positive contribution.

However, women are depicted strongly when Nora provides money for their trip to Italy. There is also the theme of parental and filial obligations where a reciprocal relationship is expressed. Parents should be responsible for the welfare of their children just like children should be responsible for the welfare of their parents. Delusion of appearances are also evident as we discover that what characters or situations appear to be at first is not what they turn out to be eventually.

Works Cited

Mcmahan, elizabeth, Susan Day and Robert Funk. Literature and the Writing Process. Canada: Pearson Education Canada, 2010.Print

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