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Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's Housemade him the father of modern literature. His writing showed tragedy and drama in a new and rather modern way. Prior to an analysis of the story at hand, it is only relevant that the plot and main characters are discussed in detail. This story does not revolve around a whole bunch of characters and is based on only a few days. The story starts off on A Christmas eve when Nora is in the living room and has just gotten back from a shopping trip. Nora is the protagonist of the play and is a wife and a mother. As soon as the play commences, the audience can tell about the rigid relationship between Nora and her husband, Torvald Helmer.
The conversation that the two are having shows that the couple and the family had to go through some tough times before. However, due to the new job that Torvald got at the bank, they are in a much better financial position now. Soon, there is the entry of a new character known as Dr. Rank, who is a good friend of the Helmer's from the past. Around the same time, Nora's close friendKristine Linde also comes to visit her. Sometime later, Nora founds out that Mrs. Linde had been going through a lot of problems and that her husband also passed away some time ago. During this time, Nora tells about her own problems that she had to go through when Torvald got very sick and the couple had to be move to Italy. This is where Nora discloses her big secret to her friend.
She states that she borrowed money for the trip that the couple took to Italy and she told her husband that the money came from her father. Since it was a secret, Nora had to work and save in secret and slowly pay off the debt. Soon, there is entry of another character known as Krogstad. Krogstad is a low level worker at the bank in which Torvald works. The events lead on to show that Krogstad is the source of the secret loan that Nora had taken. Eventually it is also revealed that Krogstad thinks that he will be fired soon from the bank. Therefore, he blackmails Nora that she should convince her husband to not fire him or he will tell Torvald about the forgery that Nora did of her father's signature.
Nora knows that if Torvald finds out about the forgery and the loan that she took, it will bring shame to both Nora and her husband. Nora tries to change Torvald's mind many times but he doesn't listen. Torvald states that Krogstad is a man of no character and that he must be dismissed from the bank. Nora starts to panic even more and doesn't know what to do. It is shown that Krogstad does get fired from the bank but then he demands to be re hired and that tooat a higher post.
During this time, the audience gets an idea that Torvald is a very stubborn man and he will not change his mind regardless of what Nora does or say. In attempts to protect herself, Nora tries to talk to Dr. Rank about this problem. Dr. Rank is old and he knows that he will die soon. He declares his love for Nora and right there Nora stops talking to Dr. Rank about her problems. This scene is significant because it shows that Nora is a very loyal and honest woman.
Krogstad is aware that Nora would do anything for her secret to not come out in open. Regardless, he drops a letter in Torvald's letter box that contains all the details about the fraud that Nora committed years ago. Distressed and worried, Nora goes to Mrs. Linde and tells her about all that is happening. Mrs. Linde tells Nora to keep Torvald from checking his mail box. Nora doesn't know what to do and she starts dancing frantically in the living room and starts acting very childish. In midst of the exhilaration and the childish behavior, Nora asks Torvald to promise that he will not open the mail box until after the show.
It is revealed that Krogstad and Mrs. Linde were deeply in love before she left him for a very rich man. Mrs. Linde tells Krogstad that now she is free of any obligation and wants to live with Krogstad and that makes him very happy. He is even willing to take the letter before Torvald even reads it. However, Mrs. Linde states that it is better for the couple if the truth is out. After the costume party, Torvald finds the letter and reads it.
After reading the letter, Torvald gets very angry and calls Nora a hypocrite and a liar. He goes on to haul a lot of insults at her and even tells her that she is not a suitable mother for his children. During that time, another letter is delivered to Torvald that contains the contract with the forged signature. Seeing this, Torvald gets very happy and is not troubled anymore. He tries to tell Nora to forget about the insults that he said to her. He also assures her that he does not have any problems with her anymore. Even though Torvald is fine with her, Nora decides to leave him because she is tired of being treated like a doll by him.
Question: Does this play revolve around a theme for feminism or did Henrik Ibsen write this in an entirely different perspective?
This play is considered to be one of the first feminist plays ever written that goes on to show the oppression that women were in. This was rather like a social commentary that showed women subordinated through the anatomy of marriage in which the wife was merely a legal infant or a slave to her husband. (Fjelde 475) This play went on to highlight the chauvinistic 19th century marriage customs that were very prevalent in the society. This was one perspective regarding the famous play by Henrik Ibsen.
Another school of thought is that this play doesn't revolve around feminism and doesn't talk about women's right. It talks about a childish and egoistic person who discovers herself in the process. Many people have objected that Ibsen did not mean to direct this play towards women in controlling relationships and how they deal with the problems of an oppressive society.
In the play, Henrik Ibsen starts off by portraying a very clear picture of a couple in love and living in a perfect home. It appears that they are very happy and content with their lives. It is only as the story proceeds, the characters' problems and secretes are revealed to the audience. In the middle of the first act, the audience gets a clear picture of the fact thatTorvald is a very controlling husband indeed. Torvald refers to Nora as his little skylark and his little squirrel. It is seen that his display of affection often has the word little in it. Even in everyday conversation, he attempts to remind her that she is in no way equal to him. In doing so, he reminds her that she will not able to get the things that that he doesn't want for her. Michael Meyer stated that this issue has been exaggerated and the problem of women's right has been made a big deal. (457) Ibsen did not intend to focus onTorvald's behavior and make it appear as if he was being a controlling man.
At the point where Torvald inquires Nora about what the little people are referred to who are always wasting money, Ibsen shows that Torvald does think very little of her. Her husband looks down on her and is also very controlling of his money. The audience is even more aware of Torvald's control and dominance over his wife when Nora starts to hide things from him. It is quite clear in the play that Nora will have to hide things from her husband's if she wishes to go against his wishes. This paints a clear picture of fear in the relationship. Therefore, one school of thought is that Nora hides things only because she is scared.
By the end of the story, we see that Nora wants to leave her husband. If we really look into it, then the women today are not very afraid to leave their husband. It should be noted that this novel was written at a time when the idea of leaving your house was a very strange one.According to Stephanie Forward, a lot of women in the late 1800's began thinking of this idea after reading this novel. Their major inquiry was whether leaving their husband's house is the end of the world for a woman or the entrance to a whole new world. (Forward 1) Forward also went onto emphasize that this play gave the women a…[continue]
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