Everlasting First Impression:
Misleading First Impressions of Characters in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll House
A character’s introduction reveals the personality, attitude, and physical features of that individual. This first impression sets the emotional reaction to that character when ever he or she appears in the story. The certain mannerisms the author makes a character use, and the way others treat and react to the new character, demonstrate the personality of the introduced individual to the audience. In the play, A Doll House, Henrik Ibsen misleads his characters’ personalities when introducing three main characters: Nora Helmer, the wife and mother figure, Torvald Helmer, her hard-working husband, and Krogstad, a man that Nora unfortunately does business with. Throughout the beginning of the story, the mannerisms of these characters portray what they act like in front of other characters. The reaction the characters receive when introduced also demonstrates what other characters in the play perceive them as. As the play progresses, the real personalities of the characters appear to the other characters. Nora, Torvald, and Krogstad are introduced by Ibsen with personalities and characteristics that do not reflect their true characters; however, as the story unfolds, their true thoughts and characteristics slowly appear.
Nora’s introduction in the play portrays her as a childish and immature “spendthrift” (Ibsen 44). As the story unfolds, it is discovered that Nora, in reality, is the complete opposite. Her true personality as a strong hearted and determined, intelligent woman emerges during the last scene of the play. During her opening scene, her actions, her choice of words, and the manner in which her husband, Torvald, treats her, all reveal her as a typical woman who loves to go shopping and spend her husband’s money. She is begging Torvald for more money even thought she just bought toys and other objects for everyone in the household. Torvald calls her his “little squirrel” (44) and his “little lark” (44). This demonstrates that to Torvald and to other characters in the play, she is alleged to be Torvald’s precious doll. As the story continues, more and more about Nora’s past starts to reveal itself. The readers learn that Nora actually is in great debt and has been trying for multiple years to repay Krogstag, the person she has borrowed money illegally from. The play occurs during a time period when women were not allowed to take out loans without the signature of a man. Since the money was for Torvald’s health improvements, Nora did not want him to pay for it. At the time, her father was greatly ill as well, and she did not want him to pay a thing either causing her to forge a male signature. This scheme of Nora is revealed slowly throughout the play. Each time the audience learns more and more about the situations, Nora’s character becomes less and and less of the ignorant wife perceived in the beginning of...