Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Doll's House Essay

"A Doll's House" Essay

Henrik Ibsen is considered by many the father of modern prose drama, which is largely the result of the success of his play "A Doll’s House". In many respects, in this play Henrik Ibsen is a pioneer, bringing up serious questions of the family role and values, feminine sacrifice, conditional relationships and self-realization.


When the reader first meets Nora, it is hard to predict she is able to secretly support her husband financially in times of illness (and even work for long hours in order to pay off the debt), and that at the end she will also be able to choose her own life and integrity. Ibsen presents Nora through her dialog with her husband, Torvald Helmer. They both seem to indulge in the interplay between a childish, na├»ve, flirty girl and her kind and patronizing husband, who does not seem to treat her seriously. The readers get to know Nora is a grown-up, self-conscious, independent woman through her past and current activities – through her decisions about her father, husband, children and herself. Nora’s concept of being “free” evolves from “spend time playing with the children. To have a clean, beautiful house” to the ability to explore her own personality, aims and beliefs.

The parental and filial obligations play the key role in “The Doll’s house”. There are may parallels on the theme of parental interaction. Nora’s nanny sacrifices growing-up her own child and stays with Nora’s family instead. Nora is caught between her love to her children and her willingness to stop being a doll in her own house. We get to know that Nora’s father used to treat her like a child even when she was already a grown-up and she simply moved from the status of her father’s doll to her husband’s. Nora eventually chooses to leave her sick father and live with her sick husband, while Mrs. Linde, on the contrast, decided to take care of her family by marrying a rich man she did not love, and abandoning penniless Krogstad.

Torvald believes that nearly all young criminals had lying-mothers, and this assurance makes him ban any communication between Nora and her children when he finds out about her deceit. The idea of children paying for their parent’s mistakes is embodied in Dr. Rank who has a venereal disease passed from his father’s licentious life.

Ibsen constantly plays with the reader’s imagination by offering some details about the characters, intended to build an appearance that turns out to be completely different: Nora becomes strong instead of childish, Torvald is no longer kind but angry, Dr. Rank, a friend of the family, surprises Nora by saying he is in love with her, Mrs. Linde seems kindhearted but believes the secret should be revealed for the sake of the Helmers family; even Krogstad, the evil-maker, eventually feels sorry for blackmailing Nora. The reader’s imagination and attitudes seem to be challenged by every new detail of the play.  

Ibsen uses the symbol of the Christmas tree to depict Nora’s decorative role in the doll’s house. The New Year’s time stand’s for the “new life” – at the beginning of the play it is about paying the debts for Nora and having a new job for Torvald, but by the end of it, the new life has a far more serious meaning of separation and finding the real self.
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