Explain How Nora Changes at the End of Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”
- Date:Jul 14, 2019
- Category:A Doll's House
In Henrik Ibsen’s The Doll’s House the marriage between Helmer and Nora is a typical patriarchal union. Helmer is in charge of the money, household, children, and Nora. While Nora seems to be submissive, she actually lies, cheats, and even commits forgery for her husband behind his back. Her actions are only to help her family. However, when Nora’s forgery is in danger of being exposed, she must take inventory of her life. Several options are Nora’s anticipated miracles. She thinks the only way out is being saved by Dr. Rank, or to have Helmer take the blame for her. Helmer’s reaction makes Nora change her own destiny forever.
Helmer and Nora have a normal marriage of the time. Helmer makes the money. He supports the household and gives Nora money for that purpose. Helmer forbids Nora to eat sweets. As a result, Nora buys macaroons to eat behind Helmer’s back. Nora has a subordinate position in the marriage. Helmer feels that she is the weaker sex. He calls her a bird or squirrel in reference to her weakness. Nora acts scatterbrained in response to Helmer. She uses deception to keep him happy.
At the beginning of their marriage Helmer becomes deathly ill. He needed to go abroad in order to heal. However they needed money to go. Nora borrowed money from Krogstad. She forged her father’s name on the note. Her father died three days before the note was forged and dated. Krogstad tries to blackmail Nora to keep his job at the bank after Helmer becomes manager. Despite pleading Krogstad’s fate, Nora cannot change Helmer’s mind. Krogstad threatens to tell Helmer. He even leaves a letter in the locked mailbox. Nora buys herself a little over a day and half to find a solution.
Nora at first naively thinks that a man will help her out of this situation through a miracle. Her first thought was to borrow money from Dr. Rank. However after the dying Dr. Rank professes his love, Nora changes her mind. His love seems to make him susceptible to her charms. Since Dr. Rank is a dear friend, Nora cannot bear to use him. She deviates from this plan. This miracle is shown to be an immature fantasy.
The second miracle that Nora hoped for was her husband coming to her rescue. She dreamed of Helmer finding out about her forgery and taking the blame for her. Instead after Helmer finds out about the forgery, he is angry. Helmer talks about casting Nora out. He feels that she is no longer capable of being around the children. He does stop her from suicide, but only to protect himself. Helmer proposes that they live a sham marriage to protect his reputation. He will reinstate Krogstad to protect his reputation not save Nora. This shows Nora that the fantasy of Helmer rescuing her by taking the blame would never happen.
Nora might have still committed suicide to protect her perception of marriage. However when Krogstad forgives the debt in a second letter, Helmer decides everything worked out in the end. He is ready to go on like nothing happened. The threat was over. Nora realized that she never truly loved Helmer. She also comes to the conclusion that Helmer never really loved her. Nora was not going to die to protect a loveless marriage. She would have died to protect Helmer. Since he did not feel the same way, Nora felt that the marriage was a sham. Dying for something like love was noble, but to die for a sham was foolish. Nora decided to live. She changed her whole perception about marriage and life in general during that split second.
Instead of running away or committing suicide, Nora decides to have a real conversation with Helmer. She finally states what her feelings and thoughts are really about. Nora decides instead of being a puppet of her father and Helmer’s, she was going to leave the doll house. She had thought, felt, and acted like the two men in her life had wanted her to behave. Nora was her father’s and then Helmer’s living doll. She decided for once to think for herself. Nora told Helmer that she was going to her childhood home. She was only taking the things brought into the marriage, including his wedding ring. Nora released Helmer of his obligation to her. She was free to become a real individual, not just a doll to be played with. Nora was finally a real woman, not a doll.
Nora had a change of heart at the end of the play. After realizing that men would never be the miracle answer to her problems, Nora decided to help herself. She decided to become her own woman. Love was not possible with someone that treated her like a doll. Men her whole life had controlled how she acted. For once, Nora decided to take her future into her own hands. It did not matter that the cost was her marriage and children. Nora felt that becoming a better person was more important than being a wife and mother. Helmer’s unwillingness to commit an act to save her, despite the fact she would have saved him in a heartbeat, changed Nora. It changed how she thought about herself, Helmer, and love. Nora realized that a change by becoming a thinking person with opinions would benefit everyone.
Ibsen, H. The Doll’s House.