A Doll’s House” is a play written by Ibsen, who uses literature to entertain and express himself.
He wrote the play during the transition from mythical and historical dramas to plays dealing with social problems. At the time that Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House in the late 1800s, society had created a niche for women as housewives and social partners, with little emphasis on love. This controversial play features a female protagonist seeking her individuality through realizations and challenging her comfort zone. Ibsen, through Nora and her personality, depicts women not as the usual comforter, helper, and supporter of men, but introduces them as having their own purposes and goals. The heroine, Nora, progresses during the course of the play and eventually realizes that she must discontinue the role of a doll and seek out her individuality.
Definite characteristics of a woman’s subordinate role in a relationship are emphasized through Nora’s contradicting actions. As a person, she enjoys making Torvald happy but will not follow his guidelines. Her infatuation with luxuries, like expensive Christmas gifts, contradicts her resourcefulness in scrounging and buying cheap clothing. Also, her defiance of Torvald by eating forbidden macaroons contradicts the submission of her opinions, including the decision of which dance outfit to wear, to her husband. Nora’s flirtatious nature contradicts her devotion to her husband. This sheds light on the characteristics of a dependent woman. It seems that at this time, women marry for tradition, money, safety, and love.
Ibsen attracts the readers’ attention to these examples to show the general subordinate role that a woman plays compared to that of her husband. It can be suggested that women have the power to choose which rules to follow at home, but not in the business world, thus indicating her willingness to be subservient. Nora does not at first realize that the rules outside the household apply to her. This is evident in Nora’s meeting with Krogstad regarding her borrowed money.
In her opinion, it was not a crime for a woman to do everything possible to save her husband’s life. She also believes that her act will be overlooked because she is used to dealing with a flexible and predictable Torvald, rather than the law. She doesn’t see that the law does not take into account the motivation behind her forgery. Ibsen uses Nora’s traits to bluntly portray women in society as needing change.
Her first encounter with rules outside of her doll’s house” results in the realization of her inexperience with the real world due to her subordinate role in society. Ibsen sparks the thought of change. “A” is also a prediction of change from this subordinate role. Ibsen foreshadows, as well as promotes, the change women will eventually make to progress and understand their position. She needs to be more of a role model for her children.
It was seen that Nora didn’t think she was fit to mother them. From this point, when Torvald is making a speech about the effects of a deceitful mother, until the final scene, Nora progressively confronts the realities of the real world and realizes her subordinate position. From this point, progressively understanding this position, she still clings to the hope that her husband will come to her protection and defend her from the outside world once her crime is out in the open. After she reveals the dastardly deed” to her husband, he becomes understandably agitated. In his frustration, he shares the outside world with her, the ignorance of the serious business world, and destroys her innocence and self-esteem. This disillusion marks the final destructive blow to her doll’s house. Their ideal home, including their marriage and parenting, has been a product of society.
Nora’s decision to leave this false life behind and discover for herself what is real is directly symbolic of a woman’s ultimate realization. Although she becomes aware that her supposed way of being subservient is not the reason for her desire to take action, Nora is utterly confused and anxious, as seen in the quote, She is groping sadly in a maze of confused feeling toward a way of life and a destiny of which she is most uncertain” (256). The one thing she is aware of is her ignorance, and her desire to go out into the world is not to “prove herself” but to discover and educate herself.
Ibsen wants her to strive to find her individuality. This gives her more struggles to face.