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Unreliability Of Appearances In "A Doll's House"

1388 words - 6 pages

Over the course of Henrik Iben's A Doll's House, appearances prove to be misleading, which, in turn lead to the revelation of the reality of the play's characters and situations. The first impressions of Nora, Torvald, and Krogstadt are all eventually undercut. Nora initially seems to be a silly, childish woman, but as the play goes on, we see that she is intelligent, motivated, and, in the end, a strong-willed, independent thinker. Torvald plays the role of the strong benevolent husband, but later reveals himself to be cowardly, petty and selfish when he thinks that Krogstadt might expose him to scandal. And once Krogstadt situation is explained, he evolves from a villainous character to more of a sympathetic one.

Ibsen does a good job of developing each character, whether they are minor or major, and he helps the reader form a specific characterization of him/her. At the beginning of the play, Nora is portrayed as being coddled, pampered, and patronized by her husband, Torvald. She seems completely happy and responds affectionately to his teasing, and she doesn't seem to mind her doll-like existence. Torvald is a contributor to how Nora acts because he embraces the belief that a man's role in marriage is to protect and guide his wife. He clearly enjoys the idea that Nora needs his guidance and he frequently speaks to her in trite, moralistic ways. "A home that depends on loans and debt is not beautiful because it is not free," he once said to her. Torvald also likes to envision himself as Nora's savior. "Do you know that I've often wished you were facing some terrible dangers so that I could risk life and limb, risk everything, for your sake?"

Krogstadt, the antagonist in the play, is initially developed as the villain. He continues to allow Nora's torment to continue, essentially to benefit himself. It is relatively easy to spot the bitterness in Krogstadt's character, and it is also easy to understand, as we find out later in the play. Other minor characters, such as Mrs. Linde and Dr. Rank, are also given initial characterizations. Mrs. Linde appears to dislike Krogstadt, while Dr. Rank is originally led on to be Nora's creditor, but as we would later find, neither was the case.

There are several factors that contribute to each character's evolution. The change in Nora is sparked when she, without Torvald's knowledge, illegally borrows money to pay for their trip to Italy. She is dishonest with him and says the money came from her father. This is the first of many lies that Nora tells to her husband, before it all comes to a head. The deliberate dishonesty marks the first of many changes in her.

Torvald's change in character may have been more of a suppression of traits, rather that a change of nature. He is a very proud man and he doesn't take well to humiliation. This hadn't been expressed very frequently due to the lack of embarrassment that he had endured in his life to date. But once there is a...

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