‘A Doll’s House’ is a drama by Henrik Ibsen. Many ideas about marriage and relations between a wife and a husband Ibsen described from his own experience. Thus, he believed that both spouses should live as equals. They must remain free to become their own individual human beings. This belief of H. Ibsen is clearly seen in ‘A Doll’s House’. Consequently H. Ibsen was strongly criticized for the disrespect for the institution of marriage that he expressed in ‘A Dolls’ House’. His intention was to stir up the stagnant Norwegian society with sensitive social issues. Some people frowned at his work and at his ideas.
‘A Doll’s House’ is a drama which illustrates the hard and unbearable social position of women of the 19th century. A woman is destined to be a husband’s joy, a mother of their children and pretty furniture in their house. Ibsen shows such family where Nora, the mother of the family, has exactly the same position. However, she seems to be completely happy with her life. She likes her husband’s teasing, demonstrates excitements at his promotion at work and seems to enjoy spending time with children. Her existence may be characterized as doll-like. Still she does not seem to be against it. But as the novel progresses, Nora starts to realize that she is not that ‘silly girl’ as her husband calls her (Ibsen). When there is money needed for Torvald medication she demonstrates intelligence, wisdom and courage to get the money.
The time after the costume ball is the climax of the whole story. Nora and Torvald enter back after it and Torvald decides to tell Nora how admirable she looked. However, his advances on Nora were interrupted by Dr. Rank’s interruption, who wanted to say goodnight. After that Torvald finds the visiting cards of Dr. Rank with a black cross above every one. Nora knows this is the notice that he will soon die, so she informs Torvald. So, she insists on him reading the letter of Krogstad. He reads it and appears to be outraged. He thinks that Nora is a liar and a hypocrite and blames her for ruining his happiness. He decides that Nora is immoral and has no right to raise their children as she can spoil them with her immorality and infidelity. As it turns out later, Torvald discovers that Nora’s contract was returned by Krogstad. He wants to dismiss his insults however it is too late – something has already changed in Nora’s soul. She tell his that there is no understanding between them in spite of all eight years they lived to together. She makes him see that all eight year he treated her like a doll, whom he admired and liked to play with. But a doll is not supposed to have feelings and self-respect, so Torvald did never suspect that his wife had dreams and desires of her own. Nora’s immediate decision is to leave Torvald. She declares that she must “make sense of [her]self and everything around her.” (Ibsen) She leaves him and slams the door behind her.
In other words, Nora realized that throughout her marriage she has been performing tricks her husband wanted her to: ‘I have been performing tricks for you, Torvald,’ (Ibsen). She acted not like herself from the inner desire of her heart but from someone’s direction. She pretended to be someone she was not; she performed a social role that was destined for her by the society she lived in. Her husband and society expected from her a definite behavior according to a pattern that existed in society and was imposed on all women.
Torvald demonstrates a selfish and rather severe reaction on Nora’s forgery and deception. That appears to be the final catalyst for her awakening. Being slightly aware of the fact that her life does not fully satisfy her true personality, she prefers to defy her husband in small but meaningful ways – lying about macaroni, for example. For her own pleasure she swears that she derives from small rebellion against cruel society and its harsh standards. As the drama proceeds her need for rebellion constantly grows. Nora becomes more and more aware of the truth of her life. So, her need for rebellion culminated in her final decision about leaving her family: husband and children in order to spend time with herself, finding her independence and knowing who she really is.
‘A Dolls’ House’ is considered to be H. Ibsen’s manifesto in the name of women’s right for happiness and for human rights in general. It was very controversial for the harsh 19th century with its moral standards and matrimonial norms. The drama of H. Ibsen was strongly criticized in the society. It broke the conventional way of life and ended by discussion, not unraveling. That was also a point for criticism. The author never imposed his own point of view but made a reader see everything with his or her own eyes and make an independent decision.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. Project Gutenberg, 2008 <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2542/2542-h/2542-h.htm> 2 April, 2011