A Doll's House Essay

1061 words - 5 pages

In the play, A Doll’s House, by Henrick Ibsen, the author begins by cleverly painting a picture of a beautiful couple who seem to be very much in love, and very happy. Throughout the first act, the reader is kept in the dark about the fact that Nora is being controlled, if not physically, but mentally, by her husband. Torvald, her husband, often refers to her as his “little skylark,” (1.6), and reminds her that she must not “droop her wings” (1.6) if she does not get exactly what she wants, when she wants it. By the middle of Act 1, the reader is enlightened to the fact that Torvald is a bit more controlling than one might think, as he asks of Nora “what are little people called that are ...view middle of the document...

In the beginning Torvald calls Nora demeaning names such as “featherhead” (1.5), and compares her to her father by calling her “…an odd little soul” (1.9). Nora loved her father, and refers to the time of his death as “…the saddest time I have known since our marriage” (1.19), and knowing that Torvald refers to him as “odd” (1.9) must hurt Nora immensely.
Ibsen did a good job relating the Helmer’s, to society in 1879, by portraying the house as small, cozy, and much like their own homes. As Stephanie Forward puts it, the audience was able to “envisage their own houses, and …might possibly identify with the events unfolding before them” (1). While controlling husbands were not abnormal during this time, a woman leaving a man in search of her own autonomy and independence was something that was never done. Many women, many who were in situations much like Nora’s, probably daydreamed of “ a rich old gentleman [who] had fallen in love with me” (1.29), and who “[once] he had died, and when his will was read, [it said] the lovely Mrs. Nora Helmer is to have all I possess paid over to her at once in cash” (1.29). Never did the women realize that the possibility of escaping the controlling and demeaning husband was within her grasp.
While Torvald is portrayed as controlling, and demeaning, Nora, herself, is deceptive and manipulative. When Nora feels she isn’t getting her way, she uses the very same demeaning names such as “skylark” and “squirrel” to refer to herself, thus playing into the thought that Torvald has mind control over her. What the reader knows, and Torvald doesn’t seem too, is that Nora is a liar, showing that early on by lying about the macaroons she bought at the confectioner’s store. Nora is also manipulative, as Stephanie Forward points out, “when Nora asks Torvald for money for her Christmas present...

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