It Helmer, the wife of a Lawyer


It is human nature that when first meeting someone that youremain cautious or reserved. It is not until you are comfortable with that newperson until your guard comes down and you really get to know someone.  After becoming friends, a person will usuallylet you in on some secrets or stories of their past but when a person feelsthreaten 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 forwardto 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 outthat secrets and lies shape a person into who they are and affect how they aretreated by the ones closest to you. Nora Helmer, the wife of a Lawyeris treated as though she is insignificant and uneducated from the beginning ofthe play.

Nora Helmer is seemly carefree about life in thefirst act, but behaves more frantically in the second, and then gains a senseof reality during Part three of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. In thefirst part of the play, Nora exhibits many childish characteristics such astossing her head around saying that Mrs. Linde would do better if she couldjust run off to a bathing spa, instead of dealing with any real life problems (Ibsen1196). Once she returns from what seems to be an expensive shopping trip withlots of packages she eats a few of the desserts she has secretly purchasedwhile out and when her husband, Mr.

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Helmer, asks if she has been eatinghis macaroons, she denies it. Even though eating the macaroons is nothing tohide, the audience does learn that Nora is capable of lying. She comes acrossmore childish when she speaks to her husband often behaving playfully butcomplacent towards his commands. Although she does have a way of getting favorsfrom him instead of just asking or telling him she respects his authority. Mr.Helmer gently harasses Nora throughout the play, and Nora cheerfully respondsto his criticism as though she was a tolerated puppy.

Nora’s realization comes afterthe truth is finally revealed about how she got the money. As Torvald confirmshis disgust towards Nora for her crime of forgery and she is stuck with therealization that her husband is not the same person that she once believed. Shebelieves she must take care and stand up for her family and she thought that hewould give up everything for her like she had taken the chance for him. Likewhat we all want someone to do for us.

When he fails to do so, she accepts thefact that their marriage is in disarray and that their marriage was a false senseof 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).Overall the play is feminist, mainly becausethe play is written on concerns of women’s rights.

The play speaks about Noraand how her critical mind, readiness to change and senseof 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 theplay ‘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 thisplay 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 orwants to be so that they could strive to become that person. “Ibsen meant thatit was not about women only: his suggestion was that it is about justice to humanityin general” (Templeton 32).  He saw thatan injustice was done to women, and he wrote about it. And this is to say thatthe play is about injustice first and then about women. It could be aboutinjustice upon old men or children or the poor people but since the maincharacter is a woman, then this play is feminist. The play’s concern is morehumanitarian than feminist, it is about women because it deals primarily withthe desire of a woman to establish her identity in the society making the playmore feminist.

The play seeks to expose the injustice that is put on women, theway culture and attitude of the male-dominated society corrupts women intobeing a “doll”. It is basically a demand for justice, and whether we call itjustice to humanity or justice for women.  It is about the lack of expectations from awife about how she has been dominated by her basic right to be something otherthan just a wife, having been nothing but a wife instead of having a career or inbeing equal to her husband. The very title of the play is about Nora and thetitle suggests the treatment of her as if she was a lifeless doll.

“Awoman cannot be herself in the society of today, which is exclusively amasculine society, with laws written by men, and with accusers and judges whojudge feminine conduct from the masculine standpoint (Archer 4).” I believe the play “A Doll House” is a playabout the strength of women. Women take on responsibilities that are not oursto 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 equalityof 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 playon the audiences.

The play shows empathy towards Nora during the trail andagain when she up and leaves everything behind.  During the play Nora confides in her friendMrs. 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 inwhich she pleads with him. She tries to face her problems alone but as theproblem 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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