In Henrik Ibsens play A Dolls House, the personality of the protagonistNora Helmer is developed and revealed through her interactions and conversationswith the other characters in the play, including Mrs. Linde, Nils Krogstad, Dr. Rank and Ann-Marie.
Ibsen also uses certain dramatic and literary techniques andstyles, such as irony, juxtaposition and parallelism to further revealinteresting aspects of Noras personality. Mrs. Linde provides and interestingjuxtaposition to Nora, while Krogstad initially provides the plot elementsrequired for Noras character to fully expand in the play. Dr. Ranks lovefor Nora provides irony and an interesting twist in their relationship, whileAnn-Marie acts in a parallel role to Nora in that they are both away from theirchildren for long periods of time. Nora Helmers character itself is minimallyestablished and revealed at the beginning of the play, but the reader is furtherprivy to her personality as the play progresses, as she interacts with each ofthe other minor characters in the play.Order now
Ibsen deliberately chooses to showNoras true self by revealing it in conversations between her and othercharacters; Mrs. Linde is one of these minor characters who is juxtaposedagainst Nora. Mrs. Linde married primarily for financial security and futureambitions while Nora sincerely believes that she married Torvald for love andhappiness. This provides a conflict for the apparently childlike Nora as sherealizes that her partner in the marriage probably didnt marry her for thesame reason. Also, an example of dramatic irony arises at the end of the playwhen Mrs.
Lindes relationship with Krogstad revives again while Norasmarriage to Helmer crumbles. As Nora unhappily but determinedly leaves her homefor a different life, Mrs. Lindes happiness seems to be just beginning:”How different now! How different! Someone to work for, to live for – ahome to build. ” These sentiments ironically portray the very qualities ofmarried life that Nora desired to win, and keep throughout her life; and thesefeelings add to her established flair for the romantic. Since the main plot of ADolls House revolves around the debt incurred by Nora upon taking out a loanto pay for Helmers recovery, Krogstad functions primarily to set forth theseries of actions, which propels much of the story. In contrast to Nora, whoseems to never have encountered tremendous difficulty or hardship in her life,Krogstads struggles have left him bitter and searching for a better stationin life.
This attitude is best expressed when he says, “I had to grab holdsomewhere; and I dare say that I havent been among the worst. ” Thislight juxtaposition which affects Nora and Krogstads relationship, combinedwith Noras secretive borrowing and money-saving practices creates a lastingimpression of her desire that no one, including Helmer, discover her debt to thebank. This clashes directly with the initial portrait of a childlike, carefreeand oblivious woman that Nora “was” at the beginning of the play. Noras personality slowly changes from a two-dimensional figure to a fullydeveloped and captivating woman who can independently take care of herself andher family without the guiding hand of a man at her side.
This is illustrated byher handling of the debt crisis up to the point that her husband finds out. Theprevailing belief in nineteenth century society was that women could not handleaffairs suited only for men, such as the management of finances or similar tasksand occupations. Ibsens Nora progresses from an innocent, apparentlyoblivious bystander to the her worlds events to a character who has thecourage, determination, and intellect to undertake those tasks that Victoriansociety prohibited for women. Krogstads demeanor and attitude toward Noraalso reveals certain important aspects of their relationship, and thus herpersonality. For example, while Torvald figuratively and continually refers toNora as his “little sky-lark” and “squirrel”, Norasconversation with Krogstad contains an undercurrent of cautious respect on thepart of Krogstad and fear and foreboding on the part of Nora. For Krogstad, awoman as independent as Nora is a novelty, and thus he is nowhere near ascondescending and parental as Torvald is and a man is expected to be.
Thiselement of Nora and Krogstads association is illustrative of Noras uniquecharacter and intriguing personality. Ibsen deliberately uses the symbolism ofNora and Krogstads relationship to raise questions about womens actual -as opposed to devised – role in society and to develop Noras persona beyondthat of a submissive, role-playing woman. Another minor character who indirectlyreveals much of