Theme of a Doll's House

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“A Doll’s House”
By Henrik Ibsen

In Henrik Ibsen’s play, “A Doll’s House”, the character Nora Helmer is a character subjugated to the wills and desires of her husband, Torvald; to him she is merely an object which he possesses. At the end of Act III however, she has become sufficiently independent to arrive at her decision to leave the children, her husband and what life she had behind, as she slams the door on the family home. A significant transition of power has occurred and this is one of the major themes that Ibsen raises in this dramatic play ‘A Doll’s House.’ However, in examining the underlying issue of power presented, one cannot simply look at the difficult situation of Nora’s character; three major aspects of this theme should also be considered. They are the demonstration of power at home, the power and control of society over the actions of Ibsen’s characters and finally the causes and effects in the shift of power to Nora.

From very early on in the text, in fact from Helmer’s first line, we are introduced to an obvious imbalance of power present in the domestic setting. “Is that my little lark twittering out there?” (1559) The manner in which Torvald talks down to his wife and the apparent, unopposed acceptance of this by his wife, is evidence that, at least initially, power firmly rests in the grip of Nora’s husband. Nora’s language is full of indefinite, qualitative statements, demonstrated especially when talking about Torvald's salary, however, when Torvald speaks he uses many imperatives and speaks to her in the third person. The difference in each character’s use of language is a personification of the power they have in their relationship. While Nora uses general descriptors indicating a lack of definite knowledge Torvald delivers commands in a belittling way, a constant affirmation to his wife (and himself) that he is the man of the house, and therefore, he believes, entitled to control.

Ibsen further demonstrates this through...
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