???A DOLL??™S HOUSE??™ BY HENRIK IBSEN
???A Doll??™s House??™ is written by the famous Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen. The play is set in 20th century Norway and revolves around the lives of Nora and Torvald Helmer; husband and wife. Ibsen uses euphemisms, diction and imagery to show the social situation of women of that time. Nora and Torvald have children that are looked after by a female nanny and Torvald plays the ???traditonal??™ role of the bread winner and sustainer of the family.
The beginning of the play shows a woman, Nora; knocking on a door. We later find out that this is Nora??™s home and this fact leads to the question of why Nora does not have a key to her own home. Perhaps it is because she is not trusted by those she lives with and has been disloyal or deceitful in some way in the past. Nora comes in with packages and has a porter bring in a Christmas tree. She gives the porter a large ???tip??™ without thinking, and this gives the first inclination of her views regarding money. She is very cavalier and casual on its usage and spending. She is perhaps a woman of lavish tastes and is not conscious in her spending. Her husband Torvald is also introduced in this act, he on first impressions seems to be a very pragmatic man. The first scene of the story gives the reader a deep and slightly unnerving view of the dynamic that is Nora and Torvald??™s marriage.
Torvald after leaving his study to see his wife addresses her in a supposedly affectionate but condescending manner. He refers to her as his ???squirrel??™ and ???skylark??™, Nora excitedly tells Torvald to come and see her expenditures and he mocks her for spending money and says that it is a trait she has inherited from her late father. This in itself is quite insulting to Nora as her father is now being accused of being a spendthrift. We learn that Torvald has been elected the manager of his bank and now earns a substansciously larger salary. He berates Nora for squandering money but she insists that they can now afford it so why do they have to be stingy Torvald responds to this by saying ???Suppose I were to borrow fifty pounds today, and you spent it all over Christmas, and then on new year??™s eve a tile fell off a roof onto my head???. This shows that Torvald doesn??™t have faith in Nora and believes that she would not be able to cope without him which is quite egotistic on his part. Torvald believes that Nora is too incompetent to properly deal with money.
Torvald believes that Nora does not know anything about money because she is a woman and like a typical man of that time he believed that women were inferior to men, who were more ???intelligent??™. When he says ???Nora, my Nora, that is just like a woman??? he clearly displays his prejudice views on the roles of men and women, and also of their competence. Torvald thought that the role of the woman was to look after the family, clean the home and obey her husband. Torvald seems to view Nora as some sort of ???trophy wife??™ or ornament that is only there to serve him and beautify is household. Torvald then makes it apparent that he is a ???social climber??™ and that he is concerned with the opinion that others have of him and his place in society. Torvald continuously calls Nora by the diminutive ???pet names??™ and only calls her by her actual name when he is scolding her of berating her. By calling her these names he asserts his ???power??™ over her and in a sense dehumanizes her and causes her dependency on him. This act so early on in the play shows the reader that Nora and Torvald have a marriage of exchange and dependency rather than one of love and respect. Torvald does not respect Nora; she is his doll to toy with.
Nora and Torvald do not set a particularly good example for their two children. Their son will learn that women are meant to be subservient to him and their daughter will grow up thinking that her only goal in life is to become a man??™s ???doll??™. Nora??™s choice of Christmas presents for her children portrays this as well. She gets a sword and a horse for her son and a doll for her daughter. It could be then believed that Nora treats her daughter in the same fashion that she herself has been treated all her life; as a doll.
Ibsen also uses imagery to convey his ideals of marriage and the distorted marriage that Nora and Torvald have. He uses the image of doors. Doors usually represent opportunity as ???open doors??™ but in the case of the Helmer household all the doors are closed. At least for Nora anyway. At the beginning of the play Nora does not even have a key to her own home. The door is locked. The doors in the home are closed and so is the door to Torvald??™s study; in a sense the door to Torvald himself is closed. Nora is closed off from her husband and there seems to be no communication in the relationship. Torvald does not respect his wife and his wife resents him for what he has made her become.
In Act3, Torvald is unable to understand Nora??™s dissent when he makes advances on her further proves the point that he does not respect her and views her as simply a piece of property that he owns. He is truly indifferent toward her rejections and coldness. He is so absorbed by the illusion that is his relationship with Nora; one that she helped him create that he in unable to even fathom the idea that Nora isn??™t happy with her life and current situation and is no longer willing to pretend that she is happy. Torvald believes in an illusionary relationship with Nora that does not in reality exist as he sees it. Nora in Act3 realizes that she is no longer content being Torvald??™s ???pet??™ and that she wants to be independent and her own person, essentially to be in control of her own affairs. Torvald promises to save Nora when her secret is exposed, but this promise rings hollow as when the time comes he is much more concerned with his public appearance than sacrificing for his wife. This shows that he never valued her as a person but just as an ornament. When Krogstad prints his retraction and Torvald believes he is ???saved??™ Nora is an afterthought and when she enquires about her he casually replies ???You too, naturally???. Torvald??™s selfishness opens Nora??™s eyes to the farce that is her relationship. When Nora decides to leave Torvald instead of killing herself shows a more assured sense of self and independence. This is the point when she realizes that she can live and support herself without Torvald.
Ibsen uses the Helmer??™s marriage to convey the inequality of men and women of the time but also to show that women can be self-sufficient and that not all situations are impossible. Ibsen has used diction and imagery to convey his important message across.
???A DOLL??™S HOUSE??™ BY HENRIK IBSEN