It when a person feels threaten the first


It is human nature that when first meeting someone that you
remain cautious or reserved. It is not until you are comfortable with that new
person until your guard comes down and you really get to know someone.  After becoming friends, a person will usually
let you in on some secrets or stories of their past but when a person feels
threaten the first defense is to lie. In Henrik Ibsen’s play “A doll’s House”
we learn all about Mrs. Nora Helmer. As the play begins she is looking forward
to Christmas with her family but with money being tight she looks for a way to
“help” the family with finances only to end up in a bigger mess. Nora finds out
that secrets and lies shape a person into who they are and affect how they are
treated by the ones closest to you.

Nora Helmer, the wife of a Lawyer
is treated as though she is insignificant and uneducated from the beginning of
the play. Nora Helmer is seemly carefree about life in the
first act, but behaves more frantically in the second, and then gains a sense
of reality during Part three of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. In the
first part of the play, Nora exhibits many childish characteristics such as
tossing her head around saying that Mrs. Linde would do better if she could
just run off to a bathing spa, instead of dealing with any real life problems (Ibsen
1196). Once she returns from what seems to be an expensive shopping trip with
lots of packages she eats a few of the desserts she has secretly purchased
while out and when her husband, Mr. Helmer, asks if she has been eating
his macaroons, she denies it. Even though eating the macaroons is nothing to
hide, the audience does learn that Nora is capable of lying. She comes across
more childish when she speaks to her husband often behaving playfully but
complacent towards his commands. Although she does have a way of getting favors
from him instead of just asking or telling him she respects his authority. Mr.
Helmer gently harasses Nora throughout the play, and Nora cheerfully responds
to his criticism as though she was a tolerated puppy. Nora’s realization comes after
the truth is finally revealed about how she got the money. As Torvald confirms
his disgust towards Nora for her crime of forgery and she is stuck with the
realization that her husband is not the same person that she once believed. She
believes she must take care and stand up for her family and she thought that he
would give up everything for her like she had taken the chance for him. Like
what we all want someone to do for us. When he fails to do so, she accepts the
fact that their marriage is in disarray and that their marriage was a false sense
of hope. It was merely acting and she had been treated as though she had been his
“child-wife” or his so called “doll” in “A Doll House”(Ibsen).

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Overall the play is feminist, mainly because
the play is written on concerns of women’s rights. The play speaks about Nora
and how her critical mind, readiness to change and sense
of injustice, and childishness is in relation to what is called traditional,
where you would often find the wife as the homemaker.  “When asked about his intention in the
play ‘A Doll’s House”,
Ibsen claimed that the play was not a ‘feminist’ play; he said that it was a
‘humanist’ play. (Templeton 32)” What Ibsen meant was, that the theme of this
play was whatever the need of that individual, whether they are man or woman,
everyone has the right to find out the kind of person he or she really is or
wants to be so that they could strive to become that person. “Ibsen meant that
it was not about women only: his suggestion was that it is about justice to humanity
in general” (Templeton 32).  He saw that
an injustice was done to women, and he wrote about it. And this is to say that
the play is about injustice first and then about women. It could be about
injustice upon old men or children or the poor people but since the main
character is a woman, then this play is feminist. The play’s concern is more
humanitarian than feminist, it is about women because it deals primarily with
the desire of a woman to establish her identity in the society making the play
more feminist. The play seeks to expose the injustice that is put on women, the
way culture and attitude of the male-dominated society corrupts women into
being a “doll”. It is basically a demand for justice, and whether we call it
justice to humanity or justice for women.  It is about the lack of expectations from a
wife about how she has been dominated by her basic right to be something other
than just a wife, having been nothing but a wife instead of having a career or in
being equal to her husband. The very title of the play is about Nora and the
title suggests the treatment of her as if she was a lifeless doll. “A
woman cannot be herself in the society of today, which is exclusively a
masculine society, with laws written by men, and with accusers and judges who
judge feminine conduct from the masculine standpoint (Archer 4).”

 I believe the play “A Doll House” is a play
about the strength of women. Women take on responsibilities that are not ours
to struggle with. Women must keep secrets because of how the world will react.
The stigma that a woman’s place is in the home/kitchen is gone but the equality
of women is still a taboo subject.  Ibsen’s refusal to limit the play’s theme to being
‘feminist’ does not change the emotional and psychological effect of the play
on the audiences. The play shows empathy towards Nora during the trail and
again when she up and leaves everything behind.  During the play Nora confides in her friend
Mrs. Linde and discloses how she took the loan in order to save her husband.
She is bombarded later by Krogstad and he threatens to disclose her past in
which she pleads with him. She tries to face her problems alone but as the
problem worsens she seeks help. As she states “I don’t know much about the law,
but there must be something (Isben).”  

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