Henrik Ibsen's A Doll’s House Essay

1388 words - 6 pages

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen is a realistic drama that explores how the imbalanced treatment of women can dictate who they become. Nora Helmer embodies the need for evolution in regards to women and their roles within the family. The importance of this play, which was written in 1879, is still relevant in the modern world. This play helps to bring attention to the characters people play as a result of their circumstances.
The characterization of Nora and Torvald Helmer is a testament to possible inequalities in marriage. The relationship between the main characters Nora and Torvald is “a drama rife with emotional debts, secrets, recriminations, and sexual poverty” (Hilton). It is obvious by plays end that Ibsen’s character Nora Helmer has undergone a transformation. At opening we see an unsure, immature, childlike bride. This character seeks approval almost in a manner resembling a dog getting a pat on the head for retrieving his master’s slippers. Her entire demeanor resembles one who cannot think for themselves. She finds herself in a precarious situation that gives her more experience with life and people. These experiences enable Nora to mature and desire independence.
Torvald Helmer is a man of means and structure. All things in his life will be done his way, in decency and in order. He is an egotistical, chauvinistic man. He sees himself as a man who is beyond reproach, a man of means. Torvald believes himself to be a man who is in control of his home and business but he proves to be nothing more than a hypocrite when faced with the demons in his own closet. “The hero comes out a rather selfish man of the world who has found himself out” (Egan). At opening one could feel that this play would be about a youthful wife risking all to save her husband’s life. It would be about a young husband who loves and indulges his wife in her desire to create a comfortable, happy home. In reality the Helmers are two people who have forgotten humility, forgone humanity, and found that all they really have are superficial things. Torvald could buy Nora many things but he didn’t invest in her love. In the characterization of Nora and Torvald a demonstration of inequality between husband and wife is evident.
One theme present in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is the disparity of women and their lack of value within the family structure. As a family unit, Nora and Torvald Helmer appear to be in perfect harmony. The docile, nurturing wife and mother seems to cater to her children’s and husband’s needs. Seemingly everything Nora does requires approval from her spouse. Torvald believes Nora to be dependent and that he is her liberator. He confirms this by saying that his “little woman is obliged to get someone to come to her rescue.”(1139). The simple task of selecting a dress requires consideration and Torvald’s approval. As a child asking for a cookie Nora demurely asks “Torvald, couldn't you take me in hand and decide what I shall...

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