Strength in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll HouseWomen have played many roles in marriage throughout history but the primary one has been the role of the submissive, attentive, attractive wife. This role mainly composed of living for her husband and her children. Henrik Ibsen, in his play A Doll’s House examines the of the roles of women and men in marriage. A Doll House shows us the story of a woman regaining her strength and self-respect. The main character, Nora begins a difficult search for the self esteem and self worth she has never experienced before. In the beginning of the play Ibsen outlines the typical marital relationship between Torvald and Nora. Torvald is the strong, dignified husband while Nora is little lark twittering. (1565) Torvald’s continual reference to Nora using bird names parallels Nora’s image of herself. In the first act, Torvald continually refers to Nora as his little spendthrift, his little scatterbrain, his squirrel sulking, and mostimportantly his song bird.(1565) These images of weak birds characterize Nora as a weak person. The simple twittering, little birds we see every day are very susceptible to cold weather and to dying and so is Nora. The images of a little spendthrift and a little scatterbrain indicate stupidity and ignorance. Nora can’t think for herself because her thoughts are scattered and unorganized. She can’t assume responsibility for money because she will waste it. In the character of Torvald we are led to believe that he is the loving and accommodating husband. He treats Nora like a child, and she, not knowing any better at this stage, acts accordingly. For example, as a child forbidden by its mother from eating candy before dinner, Nora hides her macaroons from Torvald. Acting like her parent, Torvald suspects her of hiding macaroons from him. He repeatedly asks her if she is sure she didn’t eat any macaroons. Surely my sweet tooth hasn’t been running riot in town today, has she? he asks (1567) Nora’s response to Torvald shows us her lack of self-esteem. Instead of sharing with him her love for macaroons she hides it. Instead of standing up for her rights as a human being to eat what she likes, she acts like a little bird afraid of her own shadow. In the beginning of the play we are introduced to Nora as the weak, stupid, dependent wife.
The second stage of her independence is introduced by the invitation to the Stenborgs’ costume party. Her invitation to the party with Torvald is extremely significance to her self-esteem. She is desperately trying to find a way to charm Torvald into keeping Krogsard on as an employee at the bank. Through the use of her feminine wiles she hopes to convince her husband that what she requests of him is only a minor request. At this point she is caged as a bird would be caged. She cannot fly away till she gets her independence. Her attendance at the party signifies the fact that she is attempting to break free. She will dance the Tarantella at the party with wild abandonment as this will prove, she realizes to be her last performance, her swan song. In her attempt to break free, she views Mrs. Linde, her childhood friend, as a woman of the world who has experience in the matters of independence. Whenever Torvald is not around Nora, we can see Nora’s efforts to break free. Nora shows her strength in the fact that she saved her husband’s life. In revealing her secret to Mrs. Linde she attempts to gain independence. When Mrs. Linde comes to visit we see Nora ready to crack wide open with a confession. In explaining her lifes’ hardships, Mrs. Linde says, You know so little of life’s burdens yourself. (1570) Nora’s answer is of strength, I-? I know so little. (1571) You can hear the sarcasm in Nora’s words. Mrs. Linde continues on to say, You’re just a child. (1571) In response Nora answers, You don’t have to act so superior. (1571) This show of strength is typical of Nora as long as Torvald is not around to hear it. After being fully under the control of Torvald, Nora is