A Doll’s House Brief Summary
This play is placed in the “second stage” of the career of Henrik Ibsen. It was in this period whereby he made the change from historical and mythical dramas to plays that highlight social problems. As a matter of fact, it was the first among a series that investigated the strains of family life. Authored during the Victorian period, this contentious play featured a female heroine-Nora- in search of individuality. The play’s heroine, Nora Helmer, developed during the play and in the course of this work, she is disappointed by most people whereby she becomes disillusioned to the point that she is significantly changed toward the closing stages of the play. This essay highlights how this disillusion occurs to Nora, as well as the characters who were behind her disappointment.
According to Ibsen in this play, disillusion in Nora’s life begins when her husband claims that she is unfit to play the role of a mother. She starts to understand that her actions which consist of playing around with her children or dressing them in nice clothes do not exactly turn her into an appropriate parent. She feels that she has to be better than a blank figurehead to her children. From this juncture onwards, when Torvald makes a speech on the negative effects of a dishonest mother, till the closing scene, Nora increasingly confronts the real world realities and comes to realize her subordinate position. In as much as she is gradually understanding such a position, she still hangs on to the faint hope that Torvald will defend and protect her from the external world the moment her crime surfaces in the open. Immediately after she confesses the dastardly action to her husband, Torvald becomes reasonably disconcerted; in his consequent frustrations, her husband shares the external world with Nora, the lack of knowledge of the stern business world and completely shatters her self-esteem and innocence. This disillusion is the mark of the final vicious blow to Nora’s doll’s house. Their model home inclusive of their parenting and marriage has been a falsehood for society’s sake.
The decision Nora makes to lead such a false life and unearth for herself the reality is influenced by such disillusionment. In as much as Nora realizes her hypothetical subordinateness, this is not what causes her to have the yearning to take action. She is completely confused and as Harold Clurman suggests, “She is groping sadly in a maze of confusing feeling toward a way of life and destiny of which she is most uncertain,” (256). Disillusionment causes her to venture out into the open world to educate and discover herself in an effort of finding her individuality.
Also, in different conversations she had with Mrs. Linde and Krogstad, Nora tells of the moments in her life which have affected her in certain ways. She narrates the risks that she has taken, from begging for a loan from Krogstad to forging the signature of her father in order to obtain the loan. Additionally, Nora informs the audience of her other intimacies: she confides in Linde how she keeps the information from her husband. This generally means that Nora has realized that her life is not perfect and that she walks on a thin thread should Torvald discover her actions. After reading Krogstad’s letter, Helmer does not put into consideration the fact that the indiscretion of Nora was forged out of need as opposed to wanting. Here, she comes to understand that she has been used by her own father and Helmer as well, as a plaything. She gets to know that possibly her life has been laid to waste and that it is best to do away with everything that cannot be undone, then move on and start all over again.
Clurman, Harold. Ibsen. New York: Collier Books, 1977. Print.