A Doll’s House is a play written by Henrik Ibsen during the 19th century set in Norway which deals with the fate of a married woman

A Doll’s House is a play written by Henrik Ibsen during the 19th century set in Norway which deals with the fate of a married woman, Nora, who lacked reasonable opportunities for self-fulfilment in a male dominated world. The play provoked a great awareness at the time and caused a “storm of outraged controversy” that went beyond theatre to the world society. Consequently, the play led to contrasting opinions regarding the definition of a human being. Nora defines a human being as an individual who has the right to find his/her identity, live independently, and take his/her own path in life. However, Torvald defines a human being based on his gender and role in society.

Throughout the play, Torvald took control over Nora, and he considered her his “little skylark” that he could manipulate to please himself. Torvald did not consider his wife equal, he considered her more like a child or a doll. Something to play with, to dance for him, and show off her beauty. Torvald and Nora’s “… home’s been nothing but a playpen. {She}’ve been {his} doll wife {there}, just as at home {she} was Papa’s doll child. And in turn the children have been {her} dolls.” The play reflected the society’s separate spheres, Nora took the role of the perfect housewife who was to be devote and submissive to her husband, she was the “angel in the house”. Torvald, on the other hand, was the strong, independent man who imposed the house rules and controlled Nora, and he also represented the man’s ego in society. Nora had to follow Torvald’s rules, and since he forbidden her from eating macaroons, “Miss Sweet Tooth {would} break the rules … and take a bite at a macaroon or two” in secret. By sneaking macaroons, Nora liberated herself from Torvalds rules, they symbolized the forbidden and so badly wanted pleasure of being allowed to be free within the relationship to engage in the behaviors that she sees fit. Furthermore, Torvald “never loved {Nora}, {he} only found it amusing to be in love with {her}”, to show off for her beauty by making her wear masquerade clothes that would hide the reality and only show off her beauty and perfection . Torvald thought that he possessed Nora, he did not look at her as a human being, instead he considered her his trophy wife that “was {his}, {his} only, wholly and entirely {his}”. Torvald’s definition of a woman was different than that of a human being because “before else {she} was a wife and a mother … {who’s primary} duties were to {her} husband and {her} children”. Subsequently, Torvald’s definition of human being was biased since it heavily depended on social stereotypes, he considered women inferior to men, and the only others that Torvald considered equal to him were individuals who had similar or better position than his in society.

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Throughout the play, Nora’s definition of a human being changed when her secret was revealed. At the beginning, the Christmas tree was perfect, and the marriage was supposedly perfect and well taken care of, but in act two the tree was dishevelled which symbolized the breakdown of the Helmers’ marriage. In fact that breakdown was the result of Krogsatd’s letter in which he accused Nora “that {she} has been guilty” since she forged her father’s signature, and he threatensed her of “produc{ing} the document in court, {so} {she} will be condemned according to law” if she does not help him “to keep {his} little place in the Bank”. Subsequently, the innocent, childish Nora developed a sense of guilt which pushed her to hide behind different masks. Nora worked hard to keep her house looking perfect, and not let anything ruin its beauty. On the inside, however, Nora knew that “Torvald owed her something”, and consequently she expected her charming husband who “deeply loves {her} to never for a moment hesitate to give his life for {her}”. Moreover, the loan Nora took developed in her a partial sense of independence since she had to work secretly “like a man” which gave her “something to be proud and glad of”. So Nora the childish wife became a mature woman who saved her husband’s life independently and without anyone’s help which shows that woman can also work hard and solve their problems independently. Nora’s act reflected the strong woman hidden in that trophy masquerade wife; she was a wife who considered love superior to marriage rules, and that is why she was courageous enough to challege both the law and the rules of marriage to save her beloved husband.

At the end of the play, all the hidden truths have been revealed, and Nora valued herself enough as a human being to leave her husband. When Tovald read Krogstad’s first letter in which he unveiled Nora’s secret concerning the loan and forgery, his true personality was revealed, he unmasked his unappreciative, selfish, superficial character who only cared about “what people would think of {him}”. When Torvald knew that Nora had commited something that would ruin his reputation he became a monster calling her a “miserable creature” and cursing her with bad words. Furthermore, Nora had always expected Torvald to make “the wonderful thing” and “take the guilt upon himself” as a reward for what she did to him. Nevertheless, Torvald confessed to Nora that ” {he} would gladly work for {her} day and night… but no man sacrifices his honour, even for one he loves” which disappointed Nora and showed her the true nature of her charming husband. Nora and Torvald “have been married for eight years”, but it was “the first {time}, {he} and {she}, man and wife, have talked together seriously”. At the end, the table symbolized equality, both man and woman, from opposite genders, sat facing each other, on the same level, and had a serious talk about their marriage. Although Toravld “{had} strength to become another man”, Nora was sure that he would not change unless “{his} doll is taken away of {him}”. Therefore, she “took off her masquerade clothes”, and “forsaken {her} home, {her} husband, and {her} children”. Nora left believing “that before all else {she} is a human being, just as much as {Torvald is} or at least {she} should try to become one” and find her own identity. In fact, Nora challenged the society knowing “that most people agreed with Torvald, and that they said so in books. But henceforth {she} could not be satisfied with what most people said, and what was in books. {She} must think things out for {her} self, and try to get clear about them”, which proved how strong she was. The play ended with Nora choosing to put herself as an individual before society’s expectations of her.

The play displayed the contrast definitions of human being between Nora and Toravald. Each defined a human being from his/her own perspective. Nora’s life experience taught her that a human being is a free individual who has the right to find his own identity and live independently despite the society’s expectations of him/her. On the contrary, Torvald’s definition of a human being was superficial and based on social stereotypes.

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