The play “Doll’s House”, referred to also as “Nora” by its main character, draw attention with its premiere. In 1879 when it was firstly performed it involved the problems of women’s emancipation but today Nora’s departure is debated in the term whether she had the right to leave her husband and children. Today the play is the proof of human’s right to choose and freedom.
It was firstly performed in Norway in 1880 and then in Germany. Wherever it was performed it provoked reactions like judgment, anger of the petty bourgeoisie that was dissatisfied with the end where Nora leaves her family.
Ibsen was attacked because of the play on several occasions under the accusations that he destroyed many families. As the public pressure grew, Ibsen decided to moderate the ending by leaving a possibility of Nora’s decision to change.
The ending scene in which Nora opens the door of the children’s room and observes them while they are sleeping was supposed to tone down the critics because the curtain comes down then and we don’t know for sure did she leave. Ibsen changed his mind in the end and demanded his play be performed in the original version as he intended.
The play “Doll’s House” belongs to the drama intrigues. During the play, Nora realizes that she can’t live next to her egoistic husband anymore. After eight years spent living like a puppet and taking care of her children Nora decides to leave.
She wanted to awaken her husband with her act and she expected support from him but that never happened. Nora leaves and with that she unconsciously defends human’s right to a choice. Ibsen offered to the viewer to conclude themselves whether Nora showed determination or superficiality with her behavior.
Time: Christmas holidays
Place: Torvald Helmer’s apartment
The play has three acts and it is set in the apartment of the lawyer Torvald Helmer. It is the Christmas holiday season.
Nora Helmer is feeling good because her husband Torvald got a well-paid job as a bank director. Coming back from groceries shopping he reproached her about spending too much money and enjoying candy too much. When they came home Nora’s friend Linda, who she hadn’t seen for 10 years, appeared. Nora talked to her friend and revealed how she had saved her husband’s life. She borrowed a bigger sum of money to pay for his treatment in Italy because he was very ill. Linde told her she had to tell him about that but Nora thought there was no necessity to disturb their relationship.
The notary Krogstad joins them and doctor Rank after him. The arrival of the notary disturbed Nora and doctor Rank described him as a vicious man.
In the next act, Nora presents Torvald a suggestion to hire Linde and he gladly accepts. Linde left accompanied by the doctor and Krogstad returns. He asked Nora to talk her husband out of firing him. Nora didn’t want to do it so he started threatening her. He was the one who helped her get the money for her husband’s treatment and he helped her forge her father signature on a debenture.
Torvald talked to Nora and told her he was about to fire the notary because for him he was a bad person. Nora became pale with horror.
The second act is set in the house. Nora still begs her husband not to fire the notary but he is determined to do it. He sent Krogstad a letter by which he fired him and Nora became desperate.
Doctor Rank came and told her he was ill and only had a month to live. Nora thought of borrowing money from him but the doctor stopped her intentions by showing his love for her.
The notary appeared carrying the debentures and he threatened to show them all to Torvald. Nora begged him not to show him anything and promised to find the money to pay him off but he wasn’t interested in money. He wanted a higher position and power. Miss Linde offered to help Nora but she refused to believe a miracle will happen. The second act ends with Nora distracting Torvald’s attention from the mailbox.
This one begins with the encounter of Krogstad and Linde. He held against her that she refused his love a long time ago and she suggested that they should forget about everything and continue their life together. When she convinced him that her intentions were true he decides to take the letter and not tell Torvald anything but Linde thought that the Helmers had to face their past.
When Nora and Torvald came home after dancing Torvald went to the mailbox. He took out the letter, read it and then accused Nora of having ruined his life. He forbids her to raise the children up anymore. Helena came and brought a letter in which Krogstad withdrew all the debentures. Torvald’s personality changed and he asked her to stay.
Nora realized she had nothing to do with a man who was a complete stranger to him. She left her husband and children and went to live alone.
Characters: Nora, Torvald, Krogstad, doctor Rank, Linde
Nora – the main character of the play and the hardest to play because she goes from one extreme to another. It is one of the most appealing woman characters. Ibsen tried to link the character to a complex character.
Nora was left without her mother when she was little and her father raised her but he spoiled her and turned her into a puppet. Nora was led by the principles she was though by her parents and later in life she continued to behave in the same way in her own marriage.
With time, she became an excellent manipulator thanks to her beauty so she accomplished all her goals while acting as Torvald’s puppet in the same time. She was a mother of three but didn’t act like one because she was still a girl at heart.
She was spoiled but her following acts show another side of her personality. She was determined to save her husband and a victim because of her debt.
A superficial seduction of her husband and flirtatious behavior with doctor Rank showed how prepared she was to play the role the society imposed on her but it didn’t mean she didn’t think about the real situation in which she was in.
Helmer – he couldn’t find a justification for Nora’s behavior. He thought she didn’t do everything for her family but that she was feather-headed and spoiled.
For him, there was no difference between imagination and reality and Nora was a puppet that was desirable only if she did what he wanted. In the end, he was left astonished with her departure and determination.
Helmer is a real example of a man that appreciates women for their appearance and expects them to play their role of the wife. Even though Nora was a bit spoiled and wasn’t a person from which a lot could be expected, it still wasn’t a reason for Helmer to look at her as a puppet on a string.
In the end, he was shown as a superficial person that didn’t want to look at the big picture so he couldn’t wait to accuse Nora falsely without giving her a chance to explain herself. He didn’t realize she did it all for him and sacrificed her honesty to save him. Helmer cared more about the opinion of others that for what Nora did for him.
Henrik Ibsen Biography
Henrik Ibsen is a Norway dramatic born in 1828 in Norway and he was one of the most famous dramatics in the other half of the 19th century.
He worked during the ’50 and he reserved an important place for Norway in the European literature.
In his first period, his plays were influenced by romanticism with a touch of history. He wrote a contemporary play named “Love’s Comedy” in 1862.
He wasn’t pleased with his work’s success so he went to Italy and after that to Germany. He wrote most of his work abroad between 1864 and 1891.
His first poetic novels were “Brand” from 1866 and “Peer Gynt” from 1867. His plays criticize society, fake morals and in the same times his main characters are people who disobeyed social rules.
His most famous work are “A Doll’s House” also known as “Nora”, “Ghosts”, “The Pretenders”, “Pillars of Society”…