A Doll’s House Analysis
In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, many themes were presented. These themes are scattered throughout the play through the way each character speaks, the title, the subtext, and the storyline itself. The author has offered themes that can be seen in many different perspectives. As I explored the themes and symbols of the show I came across some interesting ideas I thought were very intriguing. Ibsen had many underlying meanings in this show, and I could see how that would influence an actor who was playing a part or a director, because it would help explain meaning to the authors work.
Within this play I first noticed the central issue in act one. Nora is the character whom the author seems to make her appear as if she is a woman of luxury. She is actually cast as a symbol of women in that particular time. That is, women who were content with living luxuriously. This brought my attention to a theme which is that money is the key to happiness. Nora wouldn’t believe she would be happy if her husband wasn’t bringing home the money. I felt like this was such a basic idea, but such an important theme because it ran so fluidly throughout the entire play.
There were many specific mentions of different currency types. Also, Nora is known as a “spendthrift” to Torvald. He prides himself on no debts, and being clean and clear with money. She, however, seems to ask him for money all the time. After already asking for money two times in the script, she goes on to tell Torvald what she wants for Christmas, and she says, “If you really want to give me something… you could give me money, Torvald. Only as much as you can afford; then later I’ll buy something with it. ” This just shows how important money is to both of them, but in completely opposite ways.
Read also about The Doll’s House by Katherine Mansfield
The extreme difference between the roles of Nora and Torvald show many themes for those characters that continue throughout the play. The most obvious theme is the view of Nora as a child. Torvald always used pet names for Nora which all contained some connection to children. For example, he called her “little girl” and “little one”. There were also many references to the way she acted around him and the way she carried herself as a mother. Torvald almost seemed like he carried more of a father role rather than a husband role.
She would act like she needed him for everything, even to help her pick out a costume for an upcoming ball. Her actions were very child based and I could also see that through her relationship with Mrs. Linde. The conversation between Nora and Mrs. Linde when Nora let her know about the big secret she has been holding for an extremely long time is a perfect example of the childlike ways of Nora. She spilled the beans out of spite. She didn’t want Mrs. Linde to get all of the attention and sympathy so she wanted to prove herself worthy of the same treatment.
She immaturely blurted out this story and didn’t realize how young she acted. Mrs Linde created the trigger for this outburst by calling Nora a “child”. This theme is obviously surrounding the character of Nora. Her children don’t really have a mother; they have a friend who likes to play with them. The motherly skills come from the nurse who takes care of her children. The word child or words relating to child show up numerous times throughout the play making it a strong theme. I was looking through the play for words or ideas that repeated several times and I thought about the disguised life Nora is living.
I feel like she is hiding behind the costume. I found that ironic that Ibsen put her in a costume in the show and also made her lie to her husband for years creating a relationship that is built on lies. He literally represented her lies with her costume. She hides behind this image and lifestyle, because Torvald likes the image of herself that she has adopted, but would never want to know the “real” Nora. After Torvald found out about the lie Nora was holding, this theme became very prevalent. It also goes along with the theme of Torvald’s fanciful imagination. He wants a relationship that is easy, made up, and fun.
He admits that when he acts out at parties that he doesn’t know Nora, so he can seduce her again. He wants adventure and freshness in his relationship. He showed this when he said, Do you know, when I am out at a party with you like this, why I speak so little to you, keep away from you, and only send a stolen glance in your direction now and then? Do you know why I do that? It is because I make believe to myself that we are secretly in love, and you are my secretly promised bride, and that no one suspects there is anything between us. His imagination demonstrates the facade their relationship shows.
It is completely terrible for a husband to say to a wife, but since their relationship is lead by him and she is the child figure she isn’t fazed by this. This is when I thought about the title. Doll is a word that has importance, because it relates so strongly to Nora’s life. She lived this life behind a costume and a lie. At the end of the show this word became most clear because her whole married life she played the role of the doll to her husband. The word doll has significance and theme quality because she was a doll the whole play, until she realized who she really was and wasn’t afraid to crack out of her shell anymore.
Mrs. Linde and Krogstad had a lot to do with the findings of Nora’s origin. I feel like they lived lives where they felt it necessary to have truthful relationships. They might have seemed like enemies at certain points, but in the end they taught her the lesson of individuality. In general, I found some other themes such as time, images of doors, beliefs, freedom, and understanding oneself. I actually counted how many times I read the word door; 77 times. That is a lot of doors to be mentioned in one play. A lot of them have different meanings for each character. Mrs.
Linde is one character where the door seemed to be very prevalent, because she is trying to transition from one part of her life to another. Therefore the idea of the door is as a symbol of her walking through a doorway to her fresh chapter of life. Nora also has a significant relationship with the word door. I feel she has a realization that she is living an untruthful life and needs to find her true self. Therefore, the door acts as an escape feature for her. It is the doorway to an open life, where she can completely be herself. It could also be a doorway to the end of her life.
It just depends on what interpretation one has. This play has a wonderful curve of themes and interpretation. There are so many more themes, symbols, and ways of development. The themes I chose to expand upon are the ones I thought had much importance to the development of the show, as well as the growth of the characters. Each character had their weaknesses and strengths, but the themes seemed to help those shine through. For instance, watching Nora go from a doll figure to an individual woman is just on example that the theme of her deceiving facade was a life of lies and it highlighted her changes.
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