‘A Doll’s House’, by Henrik Ibsen, is a play that was considered so controversial when it was first published, in 1879, that the playwright was forced to create a second ending to be used when necessary. This was because of Ibsen’s unorthodox stance on the idea of the role of women in society at the time, and this concept became one of the main themes of his play. Although this was one of the prevalent notions, other significant themes include the unreliability of appearance and the notion of heredity.
In act 1, Ibsen immediately portrays the protagonist’s, Nora, status as a woman in the household. She is a symbol of the women of her era, who were believed to be content with just the business of the home. She has been buying presents for Christmas, and is described as being, “busy opening some of the parcels”. Nora busies herself with small matters, hiding macaroons and organizing things. Although her husband, Torvald, labels Nora as “my little squirrel” and a variety of other animals in a patronizing manner, Nora seems to act in the same as a woodland creature, continuously “scampering about”. Nora behaves like a small child, hiding macaroons from her husband and spending excessive amounts of money; Torvald is not entirely incorrect in his statement of, “has my little spendthrift been wasting money again”. Although Nora’s character seems to exhibit some complexity on an emotional level, she lacks a deep relationship and understanding of life outside of the house and Torvald, suggesting things such as borrowing money and, later, not realizing that forgery is a crime. One of the main causes of this is Torvald’s treatment of and relationship with Nora. Helmer’s mind-set is apparent in everything he say’s to Nora, as well as his degrading pet names, “lark”, “squirrel”, “songbird”, and his objectification of her. However, his diminutive nature towards Nora is more similar to that of a father than that of a loving husband. She is entirely dependent on him for...
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