Obligations can ruin a family
Ibsen traveled Europe from 1864 to 1891, writing his most important plays while abroad. It was during this time that he wrote A Doll's House (1879), which would eventually earn him the title of “father of modern drama.” A Doll's House shocked the audience with its portrayal of a contemporary wife and mother which forced audience members to ask themselves hard questions about the role of women, the morality of choices, and the value (and cost) of self-discovery. Ibsen's play rejected romanticism and poetry, and introduced realism to the stage. He developed this approach because he felt it would make his radical ideas more palatable. Nora, Torvald, and Dr. Rank each express the belief that a parent is obligated to be honest and upstanding, because a parent’s immorality is passed on to his or her children like a disease. In fact, Dr. Rank does have a disease that is the result of his father’s depravity. Dr. Rank implies that his father’s immorality – his many affairs with women – led him to contract a venereal disease that he passed on to his son, causing Dr. Rank to suffer from his father’s misdeeds. Torvald voices the idea that one’s parents determine one’s moral character when he tells Nora “Nearly all young criminals had lying – mothers.” He also refuses to allow Nora to interact with their children after he learns of her deceit; for fear that she will corrupt them. Yet the play suggests that children too are obligated to protect their parents. Nora recognized this obligation, but she ignored it, choosing to be with – and sacrifices herself – for her sick husband instead of her sick father. Mrs. Linde, on the other hand, abandoned her hopes of being with Krogstad and undertook years of labor in order to tend to her sick mother. Ibsen does not pass judgment on either woman’s decisions, but...