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Nora Helmer In Ibsen's A Doll House

1176 words - 5 pages

In 1879, Henrik Ibsen published the play A Dolls House. However, to much of his displeasure the portrayal of the third act was considered erroneous to critics and audiences of that time frame. This controversy centered on the play’s conclusion in Nora's decision to leave her marriage and abandon her children. Critics labeled this decision appalling and unrealistic, since at that time in history no true woman would ever make such a choice. This uproar forced Ibsen to write a second ending where Nora instead decides that the children need her more than she needs her freedom. Thus, leaving critics and audiences contently satisfied. Since then, though times have changed and ideas and beliefs of the past have been altered, maybe the critics had it right about Nora’s departure. Perhaps Ibsen’s original ending is better left unsaid.
Therefore, other than the alternative ending that Ibsen produced, how might the character of Nora deal with the situation at hand differently, based on what can be determined about her from the text? For starters, how about confronting the title of the story? Just who is the Doll? Many may claim that the doll is automatically Nora, for the reasons that she has been molded by her father and then toyed around with by her husband. To those individuals, Nora may seem like she is the victim, the poor little girl who can not comprehend who she is, the sweet “sky-lark” who had to leave her family for the findings of her true inner being…Or on a different note, Nora is the master and the controller of all that is functioning in the Helmer household. Although her husband, Torvald, may refer to her as a sky-lark, squirrel, or singing bird, it can be viewed in the text that Nora does not object to these remarks but rather embraces them and uses them to her advantage in buttering up Torvald to have her way with him (781). “Helmer: All right. But tell me now, what did my little spendthrift fancy for herself?...Nora: (toying with his coat buttons, and without looking at him) If you did want to give me something, you could…you could always…”(782). Notice how flirtatious Nora is with her husband. She reacts to him calling her a “spendthrift” not by being appalled but instead turning it into her power over him. She enhances this force by touching him and pausing in between her lines to really get the meaning across. Slyly, Nora uses these tactics to make herself irresistible to him. This opening act gives audiences a contradictory approach as to just who is the doll?
Additionally, Ibsen’s character of Nora takes on several roles throughout the play creating much controversy over the exact definition of her character. Some may say that Nora takes on these separate roles because she is childish and can not comprehend which role she really is. However, others may declare that Nora takes on these roles to alter her control in different situations. Control is quite profoundly a main component of Nora’s character and in many scenes, she...

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