The Theme of Henrik Ibsen’s play “A Doll House”
In Henrik Ibsen’s play “A Doll House,” there are many clues to the kind of marriage Nora and Torvald Helmer have. Nora appears to be a “doll” controlled by her husband. She relies on him for everything and is literally trapped in the domestic comfort of “a doll house.” Nora seems to be a silly, selfish girl, but she has made great sacrifices to save her husband's life and pay back her secret loan. By the end of the play, she has realized her true strength and strikes out as an independent woman refusing to accept the false values of a contemporary society which deny the worth of an individual’s personality. Ultimately, the theme of “A Doll House” revolves around the fact that a true marriage is a joining of equals, ...view middle of the document...
Torvald, like the other men of their society, believe that it is the sacred duty of a woman to be a good wife and mother. Torvald tells Nora that women are responsible for the morality of their children. In complete essence, the men of their society see women as childlike, helpless creatures detached from reality, but also as influential moral forces responsible for the purity of the world through their influence in the home. At first Nora does not seem to mind Torvald’s treatment of her. She seems completely happy and responds affectionately to Torvald’s teasing. But as the play progresses, Nora becomes dissatisfied with her role in a male dominated society. During a climactic confrontation with him, she tells Torvald “I have been performing tricks for you,” and she comes to realize that in addition to her literal dancing and singing tricks, she has been putting on a show throughout her marriage. She has pretended to be someone she is not in order to fulfill the role that Torvald, her father, and society have expected of her.
By the end of the play, Nora finds the strength to free herself from her oppressive situation and walks out on her husband and children to find independence. Torvald’s obsession with controlling his home’s appearance and his repeated suppression and denial of reality has harmed his family and his happiness irreparably. It is in the theme of his play, “A Doll House,” that Ibsen shows the position of women in society, their right to develop their own individuality, and the self-sacrifices women would make for their family and social appearance. It is the right of every human being to be free to experience the person they want to be in life without being exposed to an unfair dominant society full of suppression.