3 March 2018
A Doll’s House Analysis In A Socioeconomic Lens
Incompatibility in finances is the seventh most common reason for divorce. The married couple in the play The Doll’s House display a perfect example of the destruction of relationships through finances. Though the wife, Nora, is carefree and happy to spend money on luxuries like macaroons, the husband is very uptight as to where their money is spent. The most prevalent disagreement pertains to debt as Nora secretly borrowed money to pay for the couple’s trip to Italy which leads to the end of the marriage. In his play The Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen exposes how the threat of economic strife tears apart relationships through stress from insufficient funds, control of money, and disagreements for the use of money.
The stress of insufficient funds is seen in Nora and her husband, Torvald as they both reflect on their past. “This year” was the first year they could “really let [themselves] go a little” Nora explains that “This is the first Christmas that [they] have not needed to economise” (1.1.3). But, as Nora fantasizes about the joy of having extra money in her pockets from her husband’s job raise, Torvald ridicules her, calling her a “spendthrift,” telling her, “We can't spend money recklessly” (1.1.3). The difference between Nora and Torvald’s attitude towards the raise and how the extra money should be spent portrays the beginnings of the issue in their marriage. Nora allows insight into the couple’s financial struggles in the past through a conversation with her friend in which she explains how Torvald “fell dreadfully ill” by having “to make money every way he could,” working “early and late” (1.2.8).
Because of Torvald’s illness Nora considered herself forced to borrow money though Torvald is unwilling to sacrifice his pride to borrow money. He believes in “no debt, no borrowing”, that “there can be no freedom or beauty about a home life that depends on borrowing and debt” (1.1.3). As Torvald stressed over insufficient funds, Nora sacrificed her pride in taking an illegal loan, something Torvald sees as evil, furthering their differences.
Just as insufficient funds caused a turn in the couple’s marriage, how Torvald wished to control the income was also detrimental to the relationship. After discovering Nora had taken financial matters into her own hands, Torvald’s controlling nature chides and babies her, “You don't understand how to act on your own responsibility? No, only lean on me; I will advise you and direct you” (3.5.62). How Torvald treats Nora like a child in attempt to...