Norwegian Playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote A Dollhouse in 1879. It was a time when women had no legal rights and could not borrow money without a co signature from a man. Isben's plays are challenging and sometimes shocking, ranging from subjects such as sexual perversity, the right to commit suicide, and homosexuality. A Dollhouse represents Nora confronting personal, marital, and economic problems. Ibsen's inspiration for A Dollhouse was the events in Laura Peterson Killers life, a Norwegian journalist he was very fond of. Laura borrowed money to finance a trip to Italy to save her husbands life.
She worked hard to pay off the loan and when her work proved to be fruitless, she forged a check. When her husband found out, he demanded a legal separation and placed her in an insane asylum. Nora holds the same situation as Isben's prot " eg'e. Nora herself has committed forgery. Nora's husband Torvald was deathly ill, and a journey to Italy was the only way to save him. Torvald is against borrowing money.
Nora takes it upon herself to go to Nils Krogstad and borrow money, forging her father name. Nora has done this out of love for her husband to save his life. Nora takes great pain to repay the money. Nora: Whenever Torvald has give me the money for new dresses and such things, I have never spent more than half of it; I have always bought the simplest and cheapest things. Torvald has been given a position in the bank management. To Nora this means new luxuries and never having to worry about money.
To Nils Krogstad this means losing his post at the bank. Nils has a questionable past and committed forgery; he knows how society feels about such a crime. Krogstad knows about Nora's forgery and he blackmails her. Nora is to put in a good word to Torvald so Krogstad will not lose his post at the bank. Nora fails to persuade him and the dreadful letter containing her deceit lies in the mailbox.
Nora awaits something wonderful to happen, and through this journey, her transformation begins. Nora grew up in the protective world of her papa. She was an only child. Her papa spoiled her horribly and never brought her up seriously.
As Nora grew up it was only in age not maturity. When Nora married Torvald, she simply moved from dollhouse to another. She went from doll-child to doll-wife. Torvald was her hero; she adored him, as a child adores her father. " She brought her accustomed love for both play and parent to the marriage with Helmer; it was a love developed between daughter and father-devoted, sincere-in which she looked upward with the open-eyed adoration of a child... ." (Salome' 68-69).
Torvald treats Nora as a child. In the beginning of the play Nora is merry, bringing in presents and hums as she moves around the room. Helmer: Is that my little lark twittering out there? Nora: Yes, it is! Helmer: Is my little squirrel bustling about? Nora: Yes Helmer: When did my squirrel come home? Torvald's child-like names shows how he keeps Nora as a doll, like a little girl or toy. " He chooses "squirrel" that can perform tricks when he is bored; a "skylark" that can sing away a sour mood; and a "nimbly cat" made sufficiently happy by proffered candy during a light mood" (Salome' 70). Torvald only gives Nora as much money as he feels necessary, and forbids her to eat sweets.
Anne Marie was Nora's Childhood nurse, when Nora married Torvald; she stayed with Nora to eventually take care her children. Anne Marie is like a mother to Nora. She has taken care of Nora all her life, even giving up her own child to take care of little Nora. Anne Marie still treats Nora as a child, and takes care of her like one.
Nora: Yes, I will go and get Mrs. Linde to come and help me with it Nurse: What, out again? In this weather? You Will catch cold, ma " am and make yourself ill. Nora's childhood friend Mrs. Linde comes to visit. Mrs.
Linde is pale and thin. Nora believes this is because Mrs. Linde is a grieving widow. Nora soon finds out this is not the reason. Nora: It was very bad of me, Christine. Poor thing, How you must of suffered.
And he left you nothing? Mrs. Linde: No Nora: And no children? Mrs. Linde: No Nora: Nothing at all, then? Mrs. Linde: Not even any sorrow or grief to live upon Nora: But, Christine, is that possible? Mrs. Linde: It sometimes happens Nora While speaking with Mrs. Linde, Nora begins to question her own love for Torvald.
Mrs. Linde believes Nora has no care in the world, and has never had to suffer a bad situation. Nora tells her of Torvald's illness and how she borrowed money behind his back, so they could make the journey to Italy. Nora tells her of the trouble she has making payments; this is where she gives clues to her taste of independence. Nora: Well, then I have found other ways of earning money.
Last winter I was lucky enough to get a lot of copying to do; so I locked myself up and sat writing every evening until quite late at night. Many a time I was desperately tired; but all the same it was a tremendous pleasure to sit there working and earning money. It was like being a man. Krogstad comes to talk to Nora about his post at the bank; Nora shockingly confesses her crime of forgery. Krogstad makes Nora understand that they are alike, they both have committed the same crime, and like Krogstad Nora and Torvald could lose their reputations and everything else important them. This is where Nora begins to question the law, and the world around her.
She did this out of love, for she feels that this makes it all right. Nora: I don't believe it. Is a daughter not to be allowed to spare her dying father anxiety and care? Is a wife not allowed to save her husband's life? I don't know much about the law; but I am certain that there must be laws permitting such things as that. Nora tries very hard to plead Krogstad's case, she is in fear of Torvald knowing everything. It does not work and Torvald sends the letter terminating his post out immediately. Torvald goes to Nora and explains Krogstad's true crime.
He explains it was not so much the forgery he was guilty of but instead it was that he did not confess or take punishment for his crime. Torvald explains how this poisoned Krogstad's children. Torvald leaves and Nora is terrified. Nora: Deprave my little children? Poison my home? Its not true.
It can't possibly be true. Nora begins to distance herself from her children, and question if she is fit to be a mother to them. Dr. Rank, Torvald and Nora's closest friend, comes to visit. He tells Nora of his Moral and spine disease which he has inherited from his father. He knows death is soon.
He tells her when it time he will leave a card with a black X written on it, he will die alone, because Torvald dislikes anything ugly. Nora begins to see her own death, as Dr. Rank talks of his. Krogstad comes to pay his last visit.
He has with him a letter telling of Nora's deceitfulness. Nora cannot do anything to change his mind. Krogstad drops the dreadful letter in the mailbox. Mrs. Linde insists that she go and speak with Krogstad and change his mind, Nora is to delay Torvald while she goes. Nora tells Torvald that she has forgotten the tarantella, which she must know for the next night.
Nora begs Torvald not to do any business until the Tarantella is over, and he agrees. He begins to coach her, and she is dancing wildly and feverishly, as if the child is leaving her body. Krogstad was out on business, so Mrs. Linde leaves a letter telling him to meet her when he returns. He comes while the Helmer's are at the party.
Mrs. Linde and Krogstad were involved years ago, before she married her husband. She had to leave him and marry another who could help support her sick mother and siblings. Mrs. Linde explains she is now quite empty and she aches for companionship and to be a mother to his children. Mrs.
Linde: I want to be a mother to someone, and your children need a mother. We need each other Nils, I have faith in your real character- I can dare anything together with you. Krogstad is overjoyed and can envision his life getting better with her by his side. Krogstad, however, remembers what he is about to do Nora and Torvald. Mrs.
Linde tells him not to beg for his letter back, that the truth needs to be told. Mrs. Linde had informed Nora that Torvald would receive the letter but not to fear Krogstad. Nora knows what she is to do. Torvald retrieves his letters from the mailbox. Inside there are two cards from Dr.
Rank, one with a black X on the front. Dr. Rank is announcing his death; at the same time, the death of the doll-wife is about to come. As Torvald reads the letter Nora thinks of her own death. Nora: Never! Never! Never to see my children Again Either- never again. Never! Never! - Ah! The icy black water-the unfathomable depths- if only it were over! He has got it now- now he is reading it.
Good-by, Torvald and my children! Torvald is angry. Nora waits for something wonderful to happen. Torvald is only worried of his reputation, and what her crime will do to his reputation. Helmer: Now you have destroyed all my happiness. You have ruined all my future. It is horrible to think of! I am in the power of an unscrupulous man; He can do what he likes with me, give me any orders I dare not refuse.
And I must sink to such miserable depths because of a thoughtless woman! Torvald goes on to tell her she will not leave; she will stay to keep up appearances. She will not be trusted with the children. Nora's mind begins to clear and she sees Torvald for the first time. A second letter from Krogstad arrives, telling of his newfound happiness, and he has sent the bond and freed Nora. Torvald exclaims they have been saved, and they can go on about their happy existence together. Nora's something wonderful has not happened and she can see her life with a clear mind.
Her and Torvald have never had a serious conversation, she tells him to sit, they need a settling of accounts. Nora has had a great injustice done to her by both her Papa and Torvald. She knows nothing of her world and feels she is unfit mother because of this. Just as she has been played with like a doll, she has done the same to her children. Nora: Indeed, you were perfectly right. I am Not fit for the task.
There is another task I Must undertake first. I must try to educate myself. And that is why I am going to leave you now. Her something wonderful did not happen and she explain to him what this would have been that he would have accepted all responsibility and sacrifice his honor for hers. Helmer: I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora-bear sorrow and want for your sake.
But no man would sacrifice his honor for the one he loves. Nora: It is a thing thousands of women have done. Nora gives Torvald back his ring, and she takes hers back from him, freeing him from all responsibility to her. The new Nora steps out into a cold unknowing world, and slams the door shut on the dollhouse. We are not told of what happens to Nora after she leaves.
Nora has left everything familiar and comfortable to find her true self. She needs to learn the ways of the world. She cannot be fit to be a mother or wife until she does. She will no longer accept the world by which other people tell her. She will find the truth and her true self. Work Cited Ibsen, Henrik.
"A Dollhouse." Literature AN Introduction To Reading and Writing, Sixth Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2001. 1793-1842 Salome', Lou. Nora's Awakening Self Durbach, Errol.
"The Problem of Women": Nora and Mrs. Linde Northam, John. Ibsen's Search for the Hero Durbach, Errol. A Doll's House, Ibsen's Myth of Transformation.
Boston Massachusetts, 1991.