Personal Response to A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

After finishing A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, some main takeaways that I noticed was the characterization of the two main characters, Nora Helmer and Torvald Helmer, the toxicity of Torvald Helmer and the character development and courage of Nora Helmer. I think a crucial understanding of the play is getting to know that Nora and Torvald are very unalike and very distinct from one another. We get to learn that Nora is a very childish person and very nonchalant when it comes to money, whereas Torvald is all about rules and morals and when it comes to money, he is very strict. Knowing these two characters Ibsen writes about a situation that seems impossible to fix between these two types of people. Nora believes she is right and nothing else could have been done except for what she did, and Torvald believes she is in the wrong. The situation and scenario is so interesting and appealing to the audience because of the characterization of Nora and Torvald and how we instantly know how much Torvald would disapprove of the situation. 

Another thing that stood out to me after reading A Dolls House was the way Ibsen wrote about Torvald and his and Nora’s relationship. This highlighted how most men treated women during the late 1800’s. How men were always under the impression that women needed to be “saved” or “helped” at all times and Torvald represented that image immensely. He was constantly controlling and directing Nora to the point where she was so influenced by his mindset and opinions that she couldn’t eat what she wanted in front of him. She hid the macaroons from Torvald because he made it a rule that she shouldn’t eat any. His pet names and phrases directed at Nora also depicted this image of an egotistical man controlling his “helpless” wife. He referred to Nora as a “Helpless confused little creature” and after Nora had declared that she was leaving him he referred to her as a “Blind inexperienced creature”. This showed how easily Torvald switched up on Nora depending on his mood. 

At the end of the play where we see Nora sit Torvald down to talk, we see incredible character development and strength from Nora. She tells Torvald how he doesn’t understand her and how their marriage isn’t really a marriage. This moment was my favourite scene in the play and to me it represented Nora’s courage and strength getting out of that relationship that made her feel small and unhappy. She mentions how she has been treated like a doll over the course of her life and that she needs to find herself and not be played with/ controlled. I felt proud of Nora for speaking up and leaving the relationship she was in and her realization of how unhealthy and toxic Torvald was to her.