The main theme in a Doll’s House play is feminist of the time. Nora and Helmer is a model husband and wife, living in peace and harmony in their family until Mrs. Linde, an older friend to Nora made a visit in their home in search of a job. Nora manages to secure a job for Mrs. Linde, but unfortunately pushes Mr. Krogstad an accused forger out of his job. Generally, in this play Henrik Ibsen pointedly captures the inferior role of women in Victorian society through his doll motif.
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The play ‘A Doll’s House’ is one of the controversial plays, where Nora’s decision actions to dump her kids is contradictory to her thoughts as she thinks that her kids need her more than she needs her own freedom. The author of the play believed that women were made to be mothers and wives.
Moreover, he brings some idea of having an eye for the injustice on the female characters. Although, feminists would later hold him, Ibsen was not an activist of women’s rights; he only handled the problem of women’s right as an aspect of realism within the play.
The key theme of this play is Nora’s insurgence against society and everything that was really expected of her (Ibsen 140). During her era, women were not expected to be self-reliant but were to remain supportive to their husbands, take care of the kids, cook, clean, and make everything perfect around the house.
When Nora took a loan to pay for her husband’s medical bill, this raised a lot of questions and problems in the minds of many individuals from the community, as it was taken as act against the community norms for women to take up a loan without their husbands’ knowledge.
She proved that she was not submissive and helpless as her husband Torvalds thought she was. Thus the author referred her as “poor helpless little creature.” A good example of Torvald thought control and Nora’s submissiveness was when she got him to remind her tarantella, she knew the dance style but she acted as if she needed him to re-teach her everything.
When he said to her “watching you swing and dance the tarantella makes my blood rush” (Ibsen 125), this clearly shows that he is more interested in her physically than emotionally. Then when asked him to stop he said to her, “am I not your husband?” once more this is another example of Torvald’s control over Nora, and how he thinks that Nora is there to fulfill his every desire on command.
Marriage is another aspect that the play addresses; the main message seems to be that, a true working marriage is a joining of equals. In the beginning, Helmers looks happy but as the play progress, the imbalance between them becomes apparent. At the end, their marriage breaks because of lack of misunderstanding among them. They fail to realize themselves and to act as equals. (Johnston 671)
Women and Feminist
Throughout the play, Nora breaks away from the control of her arrogant husband, Torvald. The playwright, Ibsen denies that he wrote a feminist play. Still, throughout the play there is steady talk of women, their traditional roles, and price for them of defying with the traditions. (Johnston 570)
Men and masculinity
Men in this play are trapped by general traditional gender responsibilities. They are seen as the chief providers of the family and they should be in charge of supporting the entire household. Men must be the perfect kings of their respective palace. We see these traditional ideas put across at the end of the play.
Respect and Reputation
The men in this play are occupied with their reputation. Some men have the integrity in their society and do anything to protect it. Even if the play setup is in a living room, the public eye is portrayed through the curtains.
In within the play, ‘A Doll’s House’, the characters spend a lot of time discussing their wealth. Some characters are financially stable and promise for a free flowing money in the future while others struggle to make the end meet. (Ibsen 132)
Love has been given a priority in the play where good time has been used on the topic but in the end, Helmers realize that there was their no true love between them. Romantic love is seen for two of the other characters, but for the main character, true love is pathetic (Ibsen 200).
There are some examples in the play where this aspect is used, in Act 1 where Torvald condemns Krogstad for forgery and not coming forward. He also mentions that this action corrupts children’s mind. As a reader, you should know that this is very important to Nora because we know that she had committed forgery in the play and kept it a secret from Torvald. (Johnston 603)
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It’s ironic when Torvald says that he pretends Nora is in some kind of trouble, and he waits the time he can rescue her. When the truth is known and Torvald has been given a chance to save Nora, he is all concerned with his reputation (Ibsen 128).
He abused her by calling her names such as featherbrain; he is not interested with rescuing Nora is interested on how he escapes out of this mess without affecting his reputation negatively. Then, when krogstad brings back the IOU document, Torvald shouts that he is rescued and he has forgiven Nora. Ironically, he did not even consider that she had borrowed the money earlier to save him.
Christmas and New Year
The play is set during the holiday period. Its Christmas period for the Helmers and New Year celebration is approaching. Both Christmas and New Year are associated with rebirth and renewal (Johnston 589).
Several characters in the play go through a rebirth process both Nora and Torvald go through a spiritual awakening, which can be taken as a rebirth. When things fail to happen, she realizes that it will not be possible for her to be a fully realized person until she divorces her husband. Finally, at the end of the play Helmer and Nora have been reborn.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. London: Methuen Drama, 2000. Print.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. London: Faber and Faber, 1997. Print.
Johnston, Brian. Ibsen has Selected Plays: A Norton Critical Edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004. Print.