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Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House Essay

1248 words - 5 pages

Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House

Plot and Sub-plots

The play begins on Christmas Eve of the late 19th century, in the
living room of a middle class family, the Helmers. Nora is the female
lead role in this play who is treated very child-like by her husband,
Torvald. He appears to have taken over her father’s role which in
turn allows their marriage to be built on unstable foundations and
although both parties have each other’s best interests in mind, it is
clear to the audience from the start that the relationship has
elements of deception that could possibly be destructive.

As the play opens Nora enters with a contented disposition, setting
down parcels after a constructive days shopping. A porter brings in a
Christmas tree so the audience immediately registers that the play
takes part in the festive season which becomes more significant as the
play continues as the tree will be symbolic of the relation between
Helmer and his wife. Ibsen allows the audience to see already that
Nora can be quite frivolous with money due to her many parcels and her
generous tipping of the porter. The stage directions describe her as
tiptoeing across to her husband’s door which shows her childish
temperament as she does not want to be heard, and her eating the
macaroons becomes more significant as the scene progresses when
Torvald interrogates her about doing so and she outright denies it
giving the audience an insight on her deception which obviously
develops as the play continues.

When Torvald enters the room she quickly hides the macaroons and the
audience learn of his promotion as bank manager so they speak of how
they can be slightly more extravagant, this gives Helmer the
opportunity to condescend her using phrases such as “What a little
spendthrift you are!”. he also frequently uses animal imagery like
“squander bird”, “squirrel” and “songbird”. These allow the audience
to see his patronising tone and relate it to how a father would
perhaps talk to his young child not like a husband to his wife.
Further on in the scene he refers to a wife being “an expensive pet
she is for a man to keep”, and the wagging of his finger to extend his
point contribute to the idiosyncrasies that relate to his chauvinistic
character.

She wishes to have money for Christmas from Helmer which most would
see as an odd request but it emerges that the money her husband has
given her for clothes and necessities and money hat she has
accumulated through odd jobs and selling various items to pay off a
secret debt, obviously unbeknown to Torvald. The reason for such a
debt was a two hundred and fifty pound trip to Italy in order to
remedy her husbands illness, as at the time it was apparent that
Helmer was near to death. She pretended that her father had provided
the money whilst borrowing it from a businessman named Krogstad and
forging her father‘s signature. She felt she could not ask her father
for the money as he too was very ill...

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