private life of Nora and Torvald when they are in this space? • What roles do Explain your responses. • Think about conventional representations of gender and relationships .. That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry. Half my. Nora's relation - ship with her husband, Torvald, and Hedda's with Ejlert Lovborg. .. romantic version of their relationship reinforces Nora's. Ibsen describe s Thea' s hai r a s "extremel y thic k and wavy Hedda: God, yes, courage!. A Doll's House tells about a life of Nora, Torvald Helmer; a man who works in Bank and Describe the relationship between husband and Wife in A Doll's House . of husband and wife, and the eternal love of children centering upon God).
All the main characters give us fascinating personal stories and provide a lot of reflection material about the justice of human relationships. Norway oflike most of Scandanavia, was predominantly Lutheran and this is the religious mindset behind the play. Nora and Torvald, shows a difference in attitude that goes beyond social expectations of man and wife, especially in their faith formation and how faith motivates them.
Torvald is more educated: Managing a bank was a responsibility not given lightly in that time and place. This would have meant more depth study of theology, but not theological reflection connected to his personal life. Theological study in the mid 19th century was beginning to benefit from the application of scientific methodology in the interpretation of texts and increasing access to primary sources. It could also be preoccupied with theory and give almost no thought to application.
She is an unimportant person, irrelevant to Torvald's sense of himself. Hence, she is hardly worth noticing. And Torvald's relationship with Dr.
Rank does not include any complex and understanding sympathy for what that man is going through although we learn that they were best friends as children. Rank's friendship is an important social asset hence, valuable to Torvaldbut Dr. Rank's suffering and death bring an end to that, so there's no point in thinking about him further. Given this aspect of Torvald's character it seems clear that Torvald has an acute sensitivity to what society requires and little sensitivity to anything else to suggest that he is a totally insensitive man is, I think, to miss an important point.
Presumably he has always been like this, and society has rewarded him handsomely for that approach to life: He's honest enough about that, for he makes no attempt to pretend that he believes in anything other than what society's rules indicate the notion that he is capable of pretending, of having some secret desire not to be the way he is, seems extremely unlikely.
More than that, he appears incapable of even imagining another dimension to life. In fact, we might well see him as the fullest living embodiment of the perfectly and entirely social man in this milieu in this respect he's not unlike Creon in Sophocles' Oedipus although Torvald is a much more extreme case. That's why Torvald's comments about how he will act the hero should the need arise are so empty: Torvald is a thoroughly conventional man. Torvald has thus little-to-no sense of personal independence.
What he is and how he thinks are totally determined from the outside, and he is perfectly content with that no doubt that's what makes him such a useful manager of the bank. This characteristic also makes him as I shall argue in more detail later a man relatively easy to manipulate, so long as his sense of society's rules is not violated.
It might also mean that he is as many have argued as much a victim of this society as anyone else a doll perhaps. He may be reaping the rewards this society has to offer, but the price is extremely high. At the same time, it also makes him correct in a good deal of what he says. Torvald is a man who understands how to function in society, and he is well aware of what happens to anyone who breaks the rules.
We may find the fact that he believes in the rules and has no trouble appealing to them indicates a serious defect in his character and it doesbut that does not cancel out the fact that when he talks of how society will respond to Nora's forgery, he is right.
We should not simply write off Torvald's feelings as an overreaction to what will happen if his wife's crime becomes well known.
The truly complex question in relation to Torvald concerns the nature of his feelings for Nora. We can see clearly enough that an important component in these feelings is the social satisfaction he derives from having a beautiful young wife all to himself, someone he can parade around in front of other men as his trophy, arousing their jealously when he takes her away from the party to gratify the sexual stimulation he has gained by her public dance.
All this is clear enough. The important question, however, is whether there is any more to his feelings than that. Is she merely a trophy wife, a toy doll in his doll's house? We may like to imagine that excessively conventional social men cannot possibly be anything other than wimps in bed, but if experience is any guide that is surely an unjustified generalization. And there is no doubt that Torvald feels a strong sexual attraction for Nora something which has induced a few directors to include the marriage bed in the scenery.
Why should this matter? Well, it does to this extent: If, however, there is a sense that the Helmers are sexually passionate with each other and derive great mutual satisfaction from their sexual natures within their marriage, the dynamics of Nora's transformation acquire a significantly different texture. Whatever is forcing her to leave, sexual oppression is not a part of it. In fact, she may well be turning her back on her sexuality in her quest for independence. My sense is that Ibsen goes out of his way to bring out Torvald's sexual nature in his feelings for Nora and gives every indication that those feelings are reciprocated.
For all her apparent childishness, Nora is a sexual creature who radiates and uses sexual power over Torvald in the dancing and over Dr. Rank in that strange business with the silk stockings. It may well be that the apparent childishness is itself a sexual ploy, part of the erotic richness in the relationship. There is even a sense that Torvald recognizes what she is doing in this way and welcomes it as part of the sexual roles they play as does Nora. I realize this line of thinking gets us into an infinite regression, but I make the point to stress that how one reads Torvald's sexuality in relation to Nora's something clearly in the play will be crucial in assessing her later accusations against him.
Obviously, there is more to be said about this relationship. Suffice it to say here that Torvald's sexuality does suggest that within that entirely conventional man a somewhat more complex figure lurks and that his love for Nora, however much we may disapprove of various moments in their lives together, has a strongly passionate core. This quality, I think, is essential to a full appreciation of the play especially of Torvald's conduct at the end and should not be neutralized by any attempt to see in Torvald a sexless, unintelligent bore, like, for example, Tesman in Hedda Gablerso that we can add sexual oppression more easily to the list of charges against that patriarchal society victimizing poor Nora.
Nora The central mystery and challenge of A Doll's House are obviously the character of Nora, our century's most famous stage heroine. And no matter what one says about her, there will be counter-arguments, rival interpretations, as there are with all great dramatic characters who are always, in a sense, underdetermined. What I mean by that phrase is that at the heart of great characters is a mystery, an ambiguity, something that finally eludes rational interpretation.
We do what we can to make reasonable sense of their motives, but we can never be entirely successful and remain true to the character as presented to us, because, as one critic puts it in relation to Shakespearethe greatest dramatic characters have the "freedom of incongruity" Bayley 47and hence to power to evade the neat compartments we want to place them in.
Part of my objection to what I have called above the common interpretation is that it denies this mystery. It overdetermines Nora, seeing in her a character whose actions are fully and entirely comprehensible in the light of a modern ideology, making her, in effect, typical rather than extraordinary, unique.
For that reason, I don't have any complete rational explanation for Nora. After all, in a sense I am contending that Nora is a great dramatic character because she eludes final definition, any neat compartmentalization. We should treat her as we do, say, Shakespeare's Cleopatra or Falstaff, someone eternally fascinating about whom we can make some useful observations, but not with any ambition finally to define her fully and completely.
What these and other things I shall not be mentioning all add up to is the challenge facing us in our seminar discussions. An obvious place to start is the title of the play, A Doll's House. This invites us to apply a metaphor to the play, to see what is going on in the Helmer household as somehow analogous to a child's game featuring an artificial life of dolls manipulated by the doll master or mistress.
The title invites us at once to wonder about the issue of power: Just who is in control here? The quick and easy answer to this, of course, is that Torvald is in charge, society's darling and the male head of the household.
But the opening scenes surely call this interpretation into question. For we see, in action, Nora controlling Torvald expertly.
He may adopt a conventionally controlling tone, what with the rules about money and macaroons, but Nora is the one who is getting her own way, eating macaroons and spending money and getting more as her wishes prompt the first thing we see her do is give the porter an over-generous tip. There may even be a sense that Torvald knows this: And the staging of the play strongly suggest that the living room in which the action takes place is Nora's realm.
Much here will depend upon the stage setting, of course, but throughout the play Torvald seems much keener to move off into his study than to linger in that room.A Doll's House Jane Fonda Final Scene
Some viewers and readers object to what they feel are the demeaning animal pet names Torvald uses sky-lark, squirrel, singing birdalthough why these should be any worse than many modern equivalents honey, baby, cutie pie, and so on I'm not sure. There is certainly no sense that Nora finds these labels unacceptable--at times although not here she uses them herself to get her way with Torvald.
But, one might be tempted to remark, all this is surely very demeaning. Yes, Nora may appear happy enough and getting her way, but she's playing a silly role, acting the child-wife when she is, in fact, a mature married woman and mother in her late twenties. Isn't the game going on here oppressive to her? Isn't there something a little perverse about the way she acts with her husband?
Yes, of course, she is playing a role, as is Torvald. There is a game going on, however we choose to judge it.
Analysis of "A Doll's House" - words | Study Guides and Book Summaries
The question one needs to consider is this: Who is in charge of the script? Who is the doll master here? There is, I would urge, no simple answer to this question. The opening scene, before the interruption with the arrival of Mrs. Linde, puts pressure on us to recognize this complexity, especially given that Nora appears so happy, confident, and effective in her role the direction that she is singing or humming to herself is significant in this respect.
Role Playing and Control Having raised the issue of roles or game playing, let me offer the suggestion that this concept is one key to approaching the play, and particularly Nora's role. Let me further make the observation that one crucial factor in the roles Nora plays is that she needs to be in control, to take the lead role, as it were, using other people either as supporting actors or audience and that she writes her own script. This notion which I will seek to explore in more detail soon helps me to deal with a question which frequently arises here: How can one woman make so many unexpected transitions?
How is it possible for the child-wife to play the adult female tease with Dr. Rankthe capable determined businesswoman in her secret dealings with the debtthe frantically desperate woman thinking of suicide, and, above all, the coldly independent mature woman at the conclusion of the play? Well, one common feature these manifestations of Nora's character all have is that they enable her to control others, to assert herself without really attending to, listening carefully to, learning from, or acting on what other people say.
Consider for a moment why Nora would not have told Torvald long ago about the debt. The reason she gives is interesting: However, she is looking forward to using that event in the future, when she can no longer rely upon her looks. How exactly this would help restore his affections may not be clear, but there is certainly a sense that Nora hopes it will make her more important to him. The fact that Nora thinks of her relationship with Torvald in such terms is interesting: Parenthetically, it's worth asking where the notion for all this dressing up, dancing, recitation, and so on, this performing in front of Torvald, comes from.
We could, of course, write it off as a manifestation of Torvald's patriarchal oppressiveness something Nora learned to do at her father's kneebut that, it strikes me, is too facile. He obviously enjoys it, and so does Nora, who shows no sign of dissatisfaction with it. If it is the case that Torvald loves Nora and Nora knows it and that seems clear enough at the startthen one can I think assume that they are equally responsible for creating and maintaining this way of enriching their lives together: Nora will act out her various roles, and Torvald will respond.
She will keep herself in the centre of the marital spotlight. This characteristic tendency of Nora helps us understand, too, why she shows no particular interest in Torvald's work or in social issues outside her own sphere, why she is so insistent that if society's rules indicate that something she has done is wrong, then society itself must be at fault, why she, now in her late twenties, has learned nothing at all and has no interest in learning anything about other people or society in general.
These things are irrelevant to Nora, not because she is denied an opportunity to think about them her secret repayment of the debt puts her in continuing touch with a world outside her homebut because they don't interest her, they provide no opportunity for her to perform, no space in which she can appeal to a sympathetic audience, no world over which she can exert any control. On the contrary, to learn about such things she would have to stop performing and start listening to others, absorbing what they say, adjusting her understanding of herself in the light of new insights into larger questions, that is, surrender control.
This Nora is unable to do. Hence, she dismisses such concerns. The issue of Nora's need to be in the spotlight helps us to deal with another question: Why does Nora tell Kristine her deepest secret, after such a short conversation? She hardly knows the woman. The conversation leading up to Nora's revelation offers us a significant clue: Nora's appearance and surroundings would seem to define her as something of a winner in the game of life, in comparison with Kristine, and Nora begins their talk by, in effect, showing off to Kristine, inviting her guest's admiration for her and the life she has.
But Kristine speaks slightingly of her, reminding Nora of her childishness and spendthrift ways, in effect, challenging Nora "What a child you are, Nora" ; Kristine refuses to applaud, treating the notion that Nora might be able to help her as ridiculous: What, after all, has Nora ever accomplished? That information also enables Nora to seize control of the conversation, to make herself the heroine of this small encounter, rather than listening sympathetically to what Kristine has to say.
Having done that, she can pointedly refuse Kristine a bed for the night, a polite but brutal indication of Nora's indifference to Kristine's situation. Why does Kristine insist that Krogstad's letter be delivered.
He, after all, offers to take it back, thus averting any disclosure of the forgery. Kristine dissuades him, and Torvald gets the incriminating document. Why does Kristine do this?
She is much more intelligently aware than Nora is of the consequences of Torvald's receiving the news of his wife's forgery. She does not fully explain her reasons, but I cannot help feeling that she is here returning to that earlier conversation.
Rank, the light begins to grow dark just as Nora sinks to new levels of manipulation. Rank reveals his affection, Nora is jolted out of this fantasy world into reality and insists on bringing a lamp into the room, telling the doctor that he must feel silly saying such things with the light on.
Light, enlightenment, and shedding light on something all function as metaphors or idioms for understanding. Take note of when Nora is supposed to be wearing it and for whom. Note too that when she leaves Torvald in the last act, she first changes into different clothes, which suggests the new woman she is to become. The play takes place around Christmas. Although there is a great deal of talk about morality throughout the play, Christmas is never presented as a religious holiday.
Moreover, religion is directly questioned later by Nora in the third act. In fact, religion is discussed primarily as a material experience. Once again, what normally are important values for people and their relationships—children, personal contact, and, here, religion—are subordinate to materialism and selfish motives.
Corruption, the play suggests, is hereditary. Are you really alive, if, like Nora, you are living in a delusional world? The question is important in judging how to respond to the play.
In fact, the first German productions of the play in the s used an altered ending, written by Ibsen at the request of the producers. Quickly becoming the talk of parlors across Europe, the play succeeded in its attempt to provoke discussion. In fact, it is the numerous ways that the play can be read and interpreted that make the play so interesting.
This richness is another sign of its greatness. Yet precisely what sort of play is it? Unusually for a traditional comedy, at the end there is a divorce, not a marriage, and the play implies that Dr.
Rank could be dead as the final curtain falls. The ending notably is left wide open: This is a play that defies boundaries. The specific problem of this drama deals with the difficulty of maintaining an individual personality—in this case a feminine personality—within the confines of a stereotyped social role. Refusing to be considered a feminist, Ibsen nevertheless expressed his view of a double-standard society.
Since a woman is allegedly motivated out of love for her husband and children, it is unthinkable to her that laws can forbid acts inspired by affection, let alone punish their infraction. It is quite impossible, however, to write a whole play with such a specific problem in mind. He had an ideal standard which he placed upon the community and it was from this measuring that his social criticism proceeded.
Secondary to, and in connection with, his idea that the individual is of supreme importance, Ibsen believed that the final personal tragedy comes from a denial of love. From this viewpoint we see that Torvald is an incomplete individual because he attaches more importance to a crime against society than a sin against love.
With Ibsen, the stage became a pulpit, and the dramatist exhorting his audience to reassess the values of society became the minister of a new social responsibility. Social lie Is there anything more humiliating to a woman than to live with a stranger, and have children with him? The lie of the marriage institution decrees that she shall continue to do so, and the social conception of duty insists that for the sake of that lie she need be nothing else than a plaything, a doll, an unknown.
Nora realizes how much she has been wronged, that she is only a doll for Helmer. You only thought it amusing to be in love with me. She wants to become independent. Nora wants to be independent, not only to be recognized as a mother and wife.
That will be a best time without lies, equal opportunities, and without shame. This play shows us how hard it was being a woman, and not only at that time. There are a lot of women who are still victims of men.
Nora Helmer for sure was ahead of her time, and many women wish that they had her courage. But someone has to make a first step — that was Nora. Freedom A woman of the Victorian period, Nora Helmer was both a prisoner of her time as well as a pioneer.
In her society women were viewed as a inferior to men and were not provided full legal rights. Women of that era were expected to stay at home and attend to the needs of their spouse and children.
Nora was a free spirit just waiting to spread her wings; her husband Torvald would constantly disallow the slightest pleasures that she aspired to have, such as macaroons. Nora lived a life of lies in order to hold her marriage together. She kept herself pleased with little things such as telling Dr. We all have wanted to go out on our own and fulfill our responsibility to ourselves. However our need to find our individuality can lead to our downfall our uprising. A true couple cannot connect when love and communication are absent, and without these vital necessities a marriage is empty.
Nora and Torvald had to learn this before they could commit themselves to any human being. Nora had to understand that she could not rely on Torvald for her identity the rest of her life, and Torvald too had to understand that Nora was a person and he had to treat her as an equal.
A Doll’s House: An Untapped Resource
At first he only viewed Nora as a fulfillment for his need for a wife, but when she left he finally realized that he really did need her. Even though their marriage was shattered, both Torvald and Nora had to experience what they did to then grow and become truly independent themselves. If they were sincere about making their marriage work the two had to know who they were, before they could give themselves over to another person.
Marriage is when two people become one, and if those two do not have any identity to bring to that marriage, then they do not successfully unite to make one. Throughout this time period it was neglected.
Ibsen acknowledges the fact that in 19th century life the role of the woman was to stay at home, raise the children and attend to her husband. Nora Helmer is the character in A Doll House who plays the 19th woman and is portrayed as a victim.
The inferior role of Nora is extremely important to her character. Nora is oppressed by the manipulation from Torvald. Torvald has a very typical relationship with society.
He is a smug bank manager. With his job arrive many responsibilities. He often treats his wife as if she is one of these responsibilities. Torvald is very authoritative and puts his appearance, both social and physical, ahead of his wife that he supposedly loves. Nora is treated like a child in this relationship, but as the play progresses she begins to realize how phony her marriage is. To him, she is only a possession. Torvald calls Nora by pet-names and speaks down to her because he thinks that she is not intelligent and that she can not think on her own.
He denied Nora the right to think and act the way she wished. He required her to act like an imbecile and insisted upon the rightness of his view in all matters. Nora is a dynamic character in this play. She goes through many changes and develops more than any other character. However subconsciously they know that it is not true. Nora was inauthentic because her situation was all that she was ever exposed to. She is a grown woman that was pampered all her life by men.
Nora was spoon-fed all of her life by her father and husband. She believes in Torvald unquestionably, and has always believed that he was her god or idol. She is the perfect image of a doll wife who revels in the thought of luxuries that she can afford because she is married. She is very flirtatious, and constantly engages in childlike acts of disobedience such as little lies about things such as whether or not she bought macaroons. Nora goes through life with the illusion that everything is perfect.
When a woman of that time loves as Nora thinks she does nothing else matters. She will sacrifice herself for the family. Her purpose in life is to be happy for her husband and children. Nora did believe that she loved Torvald and was happy. She had a passionate and devoted heart that was willing to do almost anything for her husband. At first she did not understand that these feelings were not reciprocated.
A Doll’s House: An Untapped Resource | homiliesandstraythoughts
Torvald does not want a wife who will challenge him with her own thoughts and actions. The final confrontation between the couple involves more oppression by Torvald, but by this time Nora has realized the situation he wishes to maintain. Nora expected Torvald to be grateful to her. This does not happen. Someone she had not been wife to, someone she did not love. Their marriage is fake and mutually beneficial because of their social status.
They are not really in love. I am beginning to understand everything now. This is when the readers see Nora embark into her transformation of her authentic character.
Nora decides that the only way to fix the situation is to leave Torvald and her children and find herself independently. She comes to realize that her whole life has been a lie. She lived her life pretending to be the old Nora, and hid the changed woman she had become.
The illusion of the old Nora continues well after she becomes a new person. When she realizes that responsibilities for herself are more important, Nora slams the door on not just Torvald but on everything that happened in her past. It took time to evolve into a new person, but after she did she became a person who could not stand to be oppressed by Torvald any longer.
A doll must do whatever the controller has them do.