Character transformation is a major theme in the play A Doll’s House. Transformation is always a natural phenomenon at occurs at various stages. These include the growth of an individual, which often occurs naturally, as people grow thus increase in size. However, such are basic types of transformation that may not always change the characters of an individual. The other type of transformation refers to the transformation of character. This occurs as characters expand their knowledge base thus changing both their attitude towards life and their behavior. In the play A Doll Hose, Nora Helmer typifies this type of change. The change in her character occurs strategically owing to her experiences that compel her to mature thus act in a wiser manner than the rest of the character assume her to be. Such is a strategic development that enhances the conflict in the plot of the play as the discussion below portrays.
At the beginning of the play, Nora Helmer is a timid young woman who enjoys her life in her own small ways. She is a charming woman who enjoys the presence and affection of her husband Torvald Helmer who even thinks that she is stupid and naïve. She enjoys her husband’s company and expresses both excitement and contentment in his promotion since it increases her salary. As such, Nora enjoys her marriage life. Her husband pampers, coddles and patronizes her but she does not care. In fact, the developer of the play provides Nora with a doll like existence at the beginning of the play. Such is a strategic feature in the play that justifies the title of the play. As a doll, Nora does not question her existence and does anything naturally in a manner that portrays both her innocence and naivety. Towards the end of the first act, Nora begins portraying signs of change. She expresses feeling of boredom as she says that her life is “unspeakably empty” and thinks of talking to her husband about getting a job.
Torvald Helmer class Nora “a silly girl” owing to her timid personality. However, this quickly and progressively changes as Nora begins to exhibit an aggressive personality and a risk taker who can do anything to achieve her goals. She takes a loan in order to marshal adequate resources to treat her husband. After acquiring the loan, she understands the debt implications of the loan and works hard to pay back the money. Such is a strategic portrayal of development in her character that portrays a different woman from the woman previously described by Torvald Helmer as “a silly woman”. Such is an act of bravery, portrayal of her determination ambitions beyond those of a mere wifehood as previously portrayed. She even portrays her extensive understanding of her chauvinist husband “how painful and humiliating it would be for Torvald, with his manly independence, to know that he owes me money” (Ibsen and William-Alan 1.197). The act portrays her courage as she risks breaking the law just to obtain money and saver her husband’s health.
Nora develops a strong personality as the play progresses. She learns of Krogstad’s blackmail. This just as in any case causes her immense trauma. However, she remains unchanged as she puts on a bold face to overcome such. In fact, such acts of betrayal open Nora’s eyes to her underappreciated and unfulfilled potential. During a confrontation with Torvald, she admits that she had been playing tricks both literally and figuratively. The figurative tricks are more powerful than the literal tricks are since she contends that she put on a show and adopted a different personality, one that was never hers in the first place just to depict the ideal image of a wife that Torvald, her father and the entire society wanted.
Torvald reacts poorly and selfishly given his chauvinist personality. However, Nora expected such a reaction. This instigates a series of conflicts and confrontation between the two al of which continues to portray Nora’s progressive awakening. The conflicts and confrontations end with Nora separating with her husband as she ventures on a self-discovery mission. While this is the culmination of the conflict in the play, it simply portrays the extent of Nora’s awakening since from the beginning the play portrays Nora as a smart intelligent woman who shelves her identity in order to conform to the society’s definition of a woman and a wife.
In retrospect, the entire play shows Nora’s progressive awakening as she progressively portrays a changing personality and strength. At the end of the play, Nora leaves both her husband and children as she seeks to discover herself. This embodies the progressive but steady development and transformation of the character in the play. Such is a fundamental aspect in the plot of the play that elicited controversy (Dukore 43). From the doll-like character of Nora created at the beginning of the chapter to the self-aware Nora who boldly walks out of her marriage, the developer of the play strives to show the extent of character transformation and the effects of some of the social features in the development of an individual. Nora admits concealing her real character in order to conform to the society’s definition of a woman. This implies that the society often affects the characters of people often instigating and sustaining their progressive transformations later in life.
Dukore, F. Bernard., ed. Dramatic Theory and Criticism: Greeks to Grotowski. Florence, KY: Heinle & Heinle, 1974. Print.
Ibsen, Henrik, and William-Alan Landes. A Dolls House. Studio City, Calif: Players Press, 1993. Print.