What is tragic about Torvald Helmer as a character?
Torvald Helmer’s character is that of a typical 19th century middle class male. He offers his family financial support and is a respectable member of society. Unfortunately, it is this and his inability to see past himself and society which makes Helmer a tragic character in ‘A Doll’s House.’
Helmer is a tragic character because of his inability to understand the true concept of love and marriage. Throughout the play different types of love are shown through all of the characters; however it is clear that Nora and Torvald Helmer’s love isn’t the type of love that ‘real’ marriages are based on; their love is illusive. Nora herself comments that “being with Torvald is a little like being with papa,” suggesting that the relationship is more child-wife rather than wife, the equal. However, in Act Three where Nora finally realises the truth about her marriage, it is Helmer who becomes the child as he doesn’t fully realise that his marriage was never real and neither was his love for Nora, as Nora points out “you just thought it was fun to be in love with me.” It is also tragic that upon hearing and forgiving Nora of her ‘crime’, Helmer doesn’t realise that he isn’t being the ideal husband when he claims that “she has become his property in a double sense…not only his wife but also his child.” Ibsen implies that Helmer is incapable of understanding love and marriage based on equality. Helmer is also unable to see past society’s views. Although Ibsen has set the play in the Helmer’s living room, the idea of “what will society think” is constant throughout the play, especially where Helmer is concerned. Helmer is perceived as a tragic character because he is obsessed with reputation and fear of unfavourable public opinion, so much so that the marriage being a ‘sham’ becomes apparent to Nora. Helmer says “I am condemned to humiliation and ruin, simply for the weakness of a woman,” and “you have destroyed my...
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