Nora’s personal life describes the whole A Doll’s House. Raised in a society where the expectations make her a housewife, her inner turmoil helps to break apart her family. Nora has two separate parts of her character, the persona, which she shows to the world, and the shadow, which she hides. Ibsen conveys this by dialogue to show the double lives that everyone has. Nora’s persona is a guise to deceive a world that believes in male rule. Demonstrating this, Nora says “I wouldn’t think of going against your wishes” (4). She says this to try to conceal her macaroons.
By lying Nora tries to cover up her failures to listen to her husband. As she practices the dance, “Helmer has taken a position by the stove and during the dance gives her frequent instructions. She does not hear him” (48). Nora pretends to listen to her husband most of the time, but in certain moments her shadow self shows. The dialogue and her actions reveal that beneath her normal exterior, Nora contains a very different person, Underneath her persona, Nora has a shadow self who is desparate for responsibility. When she reveals her debt to Mrs.
Linde, an old friend, Nora brags :It was I who procured the money” (11). Nora persona shows her a spendthrift, but her lower layer tries to address mature problems. By seeking responsibility, Nora’s shadow and ego [defined in the non-Jungian sense] push through. Nora tries to accept the blame later too, as a mature way of developing her responsibility. When her husband breaks down at the end, Nora tells him “You shall not take it upon yourself” (62). Nora’s shadow eventually breaks down her persona to create her personality.
By using Nora’s dialogue with each other, Ibsen examines the Jungian principle of shadow and persona. He does this to show the human condition of self conflict. Ibsen shows that beneath every exterior, like the old Western towns with false fronts, there is something totally different. Nora has a childish exterior that covers an emerging adult trying to grow up, and leave the doll’s house. Above all else, one is responsible to themselves. An individual alone can determine whether their actions are justified.
In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House the protagonist, Nora, is forced to make a crucial decision which will not only alter her life forever but, the life of her husband and children as well. Nora decides to leave her family to search for the truth. When an individual makes such a life changing decision it can not be taken lightly. In the end, however, the decision has to be based on what the person feels, not the obligations they have towards others. When a person experiences an epiphany, they frequently resort to radical , but often necessary actions.
Comforts can often blind someone from the truth. When you get use to having something, you often begin to take it for granted. This is true in Nora’s case. She never seems to leave the house. Everything comes to her. She is literally trapped in domestic comfort. Nora gets so use to her life, living in her “Doll’s House”, that she eventually loses touch with the outside world and consequently, reality. When Torvald chastises Nora for her lies as opposed to embracing and protecting her, she finally notices that she is being confined, that she is not truly loved.
Nora recognizes that she has lost sight of the truth and with this awareness she decides to seek it out. This act is perfectly justified. When someone realizes that they have had a false sense of a good portion of their life, as Nora did, the most fundamental response is a drastic action. No one person can go into another persons mind. No one person can understand exactly how another person feels. Because of this reality, it is not fair for anyone to judge another persons actions. One cannot decide whether someone else’s actions are justified or not.
That onus is on the individual themselves. Nora feels her actions are justified, she does not need anyone telling her otherwise. She follows her heart, doing what she needs to do. She understands that the search for truth in ones life requires one hundred percent devotion. When Torvald tells her “You don’t understand the conditions of the world you live” she replies by saying “No, I don’t. But now I am going to try. I am going to see if I can make out who is right, the world or I. ” It is for this reason that Nora undertakes such a radical action to see the truth.
When Nora leaves she is freed from all the obligations her husband and society in general puts on her. She says to Torvald “when a wife deserts her husband’s house, as I am doing now, he is legally freed from all obligations towards her. In any case I set you free from your obligations. You are not to feel yourself bound in the slightest way, any more then I shall. There must be perfect freedom on both sides. ” This freedom from her obligations allows Nora to gain absolute freedom in life, and more importantly the ability to be responsible for herself alone. Mrs.
Linde’s character shows us what happens when someone is not primarily responsible for themselves. She married a rich man in order to take care of her family. In doing so she lost a great deal in her life, often expressing how unhappy she was in marriage. She acted out of obligation to her family instead of obligation to herself. In the end she explains to Krogstad how she regretted her decision to leave him. Mrs. Linde demonstrates the consequences of not acting true to oneself. Fortunately for Nora, due to her decision to leave, she did not have to face these consequences.
When Nora decided to leave her family in order to discover not only the truth, but herself, she forgot about her obligation to others and worried about no one else. Nora’s decision to leave was utterly justifiable. She realizes that her primary duty is to herself and she acts on it. After Nora’s epiphany she takes radical, but at the same time just actions, however, the whole time remaining in accordance with herself. Mrs. Linde said “a woman who has once sold herself once for another’s sake, doesn’t do it a second time. ” How fortunate are those woman like Nora, who do not have to sell themselves once to realize this?