By Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen's background provided him the insight to write the play A Doll House. In Britannica Biographies, Ibsen's father lost his business and the family's financial stability when Ibsen was a young child. Because of the family's financial misfortunes, at the age of 15, Ibsen was forced to leave home and venture out on his own. He supported himself meagerly as an apothecary's apprentice and studied at night to prepare for university (1+). Similarly, Mrs. Linde, a character in A Doll House, was pressured to marry a man she did not love so that she could support her bedridden mother and her brothers (1263; act 1). In addition to Ibsen's troubled family experiences, another influence on the play is the author's cultural experience of the idealists-versus-modernists movement. The glaring flaw of A Doll house, therefore, is the absence of reconciliation. Having seen something profoundly ugly we are left with only a distressing feeling, which is the inevitable consequence when there is no reconciliation to demonstrate the ultimate victory of the ideal (Moi 259). By comparison, Nora, one of the main character's in A Doll House, also struggled to conform to her father's and her husband's conception of aesthetic beauty and perfection and wasn't allowed to be herself. This background, together with a believable plot, convincing characterization, and important literary devices enables Ibsen in A Doll House to develop the theme that to gain self-reliance, one may be willing to sacrifice what means the most.
To develop this theme, Ibsen creates a believable plot through an internal conflict and a determinate ending. Ibsen formulates a believable plot through the protagonist’s psychological and social conflicts. Nora’s psychological conflict is that she is facing the reality of taking out loans illegally when Krogstad starts to blackmail her with the loan she acquired with forgery so that he can keep his job. Also, the thought of Torvald finding out that she is in debt is weighing down on her. Nora’s social conflicts are those that affect her family. For example, Torvald explains to her that a family compiled of lies can only tarnish and ruin that family. Torvald also tells Nora that it is the same as poisoning your children when you raise them in a house of lies. (1276; act 1). Along with the psychological and social conflict Ibsen further creates a believable plot in this play by using a determinant, surprise ending. The ending of A Doll House really shows how Nora has lifted herself above the modern idea of a woman in that era, by leaving her husband and children behind and splitting their belongings between Torvald and herself. This determinant ending also shows that Nora has left behind her closest belongings to reach the point of self-realism discussed earlier. Evolving from Nora’s psychological conflict, this ending masterfully reinforces the theme of the play.
In addition to creating the theme with a believable plot, Ibsen also develops the theme of A Doll House by convincingly characterizing the protagonist. The protagonist is convincingly characterized because she constantly conceals her true self. In Act I Nora, the protagonist, conceals her macaroons from her husband and then lies to him when he asks her about them. Besides being convincing because she behaves consistently, the Nora is a convincing character because the modern conformity of women in culture motivates her to pretend. Torvald always refers to Nora as his “doll” yet deep down Nora feels a sense of self-reliance and wishes to leave behind her current roles as mother and wife to be on her own. In Teaching A Doll House, Rachel, and Marisol, Lee brings about the excellent point that “Nora’s understanding of her humanity and freedom is intimately linked to a particularly modern notion of self, autonomy, ownership, and property. Nora’s “humanity” relies on a sense that she is the exclusive owner of...