Category Archives: A Doll’s House

“A DOLL’S HOUSE” BY HEINRICH IBSEN

“A Doll’s House” by Heinrich Ibsen portrays the concepts of love, deception, trust and gender bias. As we know, the play takes time in the early/mid 19th century, during this time there is a huge difference between men and women; men are the leaders of the households, they work and maintain income for their family, whilst the women are the ones who raise the children, aren’t allowed to work and are married off as soon as they reach maturity.


At the beginning of the play, we are introduced to Mr and Mrs Helmer. At first one might believe that they are a perfect family with not many struggles, but as we begin to discover who are main characters are in more detail throughout the play, we realise that their relationship is quite odd as well as deceitful. We can use the example of a scene where Mr Helmer is upset with Mrs Helmer, he claims her to be and act like a child, but the hypocrisy comes whenever we see that Mrs Helmer whilst acting as a child at times asks Mr Helmer for support and guidance and without any question, he coddles her and allows it. This is where we can see an interpretation of the saying “Do as I say, not as I do”.


Throughout the play, we also see the concept of deception, when Nora is constantly asking for extra money for “Christmas Presents” which is true to pay off debts that she has from her previous endeavours. Mr Helmer, clueless of his wife as well as their life, conceits to it but later on finds out the truth.


In this play, we see over and over how deception that every single adult character in the play portrays. We see it in Christine as well as in Krogstad when they both decide to team up in order to bring the Helmer household down.


Overall, I personally did like the play since we see how in today’s world vs the older times, there is more acceptance of imperfect people, there is not as large of a gender bias, nor is there as much lack of opportunity, that being said, I personally would not recommend this to anyone. But I will also like to add, that whenever we go over plays like these, I think it is smart to compare the kind of education people received back then vs now and see the impact it has on society.

Personal Response to A Doll’s House

Role play appears to be the norm of the in A Doll’s House. Rather than being their own selves, the play’s protagonists pretend to be someone that others wish them to be. Nora is the one who stands out the most as a character whose acting is almost perfect, to the point that she seems to have two lives. Nora gives the impression of an obedient, money-hungry, immature wife to the viewer. Nora seems to only want money from Torvald in the first act. She does not waste much time in asking for money after telling Torvald what she just got for their kids in their first meeting. Even when asked what she wants for Christmas, she says money. Torvald treats Nora as though she were a child or even a horse, which is revolting, “my little songbird shan’t go trailing her wings now. Hmm? Is my squirrel standing there sulking?” (Page. 111). He seems to be conversing with a little girl. And he says it while handing her money, making their exchange feel like a grown grandfather handing money to his precious, beloved young granddaughter. Nora seems to be more of a cherished possession than an equal partner in marriage as a result of all of this. Nora is introduced to the reader as a simple-minded, faithful trophy-wife in this way by Ibsen. The audience is unaware, however, that this is just Nora’s position in the household.

Nora seems to finally grasp what she has seen and what needs to be done at this stage when Torvald is furious at her for what she has done when he discovers the debt he ows and Nora’s forgery. She now recognizes that she has not been herself since they have been married. She claims, “When I look at it now… I’ve lived by doing tricks for you, Torvald. But that was how you wanted it.” (Page. 182). She realizes now that she has become nothing more than a source of amusement for her husband, who will make her dance for him. And, as much as Torvald may have chastised her for her immature actions in the end, Nora points out that it was for doing the tricks and acting like a doll was what he admired in her.

Nora justifies her decision to leave the house by claiming that she has to think more about herself “But now I intend to look into it. I must find out who is right, society or me.” (Page. 185). Nora is now portrayed as a calm, conscious human being who understands that not everything one is told must be followed. She recognizes that there are aspects of culture and its traditional beliefs with which she may disagree, and which may be incorrect. Torvald then offers to teach her, but she declines because she realizes she must educate herself, or at the very least away from him. She also mentions that they never spoke serious things, which she thinks is why she believes he isn’t qualified to teach her, as well as the fact that he has looked down on her since they met.

Nora appears as a self-assured, strong-willed woman who knows just what she wants. Nora is not only Ibsen’s way of showing women’s strength of character, but she also helps to show women as human beings on par with men. Nora also mentions that, aside from the misconception of women as the lesser sex, some aspects of society. Nora’s presence in a double life demonstrates much of this. On the surface, she appears to be a sweet, fun doll to her husband, father, and even her friend Mrs. Linde, but it is only after they hear about her secret life that they begin to admire her for more than just a pretty girl. Nora can use her second life to show that she can work, that she can deal with a lot of pressures, and that she can do whatever she puts her mind to. This secret life is what eventually leads to her being saved from the doll house, as she refers to it, and encouraging her to research and think freely about herself and society.

Personal Response to The Doll’s House

The Doll’s House is a story based on one of Ibsen’s friend her name is Laura Kieler and the part that is based on her is Nora and Torvald she had something similar happen where she took out an illegal loan to save her husband.

My thoughts on the Doll House, I think the story was very good and usually kept my attention for a lot of it, I’m not very good at staying on track with books but the movie really was good it kept my attention without me feeling bored. So that’s good but here are the reasons why I feel like it kept my attention for such a long time without getting distracted. Even some parts of the book did this as well.

First thing being that there is almost always something happening in the story, for example, when Mrs. Linde comes back to Nora’s home after Krogstad put the letter filled with the bad things Nora did. Mrs., Linde says that she used to have a relationship with Krogstad so she could go talk to him, and while that is happening Nora is trying to stall Torvald from looking in the glove box, this is one of the first ways the story keeps my attention. It is small ways that Nora is trying to stall Torvald, you can really see her emotion and how she is desperate for him not to see the letter in the letterbox.

Second things being the emotions in the story, to be fair I can only read emotion sometimes in the book but in the movie it conveys it a lot better which should be what a movie does but besides that the Emotions to me play a big part in how you interpret something some of the emotions that stuck out the most and convey the most is especially when Nora learns the truth about her marriage with Torvald while she is calm, with no expression, you can really feel this emotion of like realizing something bad about something you care about.

In all this book and movie are very nice. This is something I could read in my free time without falling asleep.

 

03/01/21, The Motivations of Krogstad

In A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, the character Krogstad is supposed to be the main antagonist in the story. Superficially, this is true because what he does in the story works against in both action and incentive against what the main character, Nora, is trying to accomplish. When Nora’s husband Torvald was ill, she was forced to find a way to raise money to allow Torvald to vacation to warmer climates to regain his health. Out of lack of option, she was forced to borrow that money from Krogstad, however this was an unsavoury option since Krogstad and Torvald are strong enemies. Torvald and Krogstad had known each other since childhood, and as adults ended up working at the same bank business. Krogstad loathed Torvald’s high salary and his higher ranking job at the bank, while Torvald loathed Krogstad for his previous crime of forgery and disrespectful demeanor towards Torvald. This conflict worsened when Torvald became head of the bank, and decided to evict Krogstad from his job.

Krogstad, in Nora’s favour, decided to threaten to inform Torvald that Nora was indebted to him, and that Torvald can’t evict him. Torvald is severely opposed to any form of credit or debt taking, believing it shows an unethical use of money, something he is willing to enforce to extreme measures. Therefore, Krogstad is portrayed as the bad character, for trapping Nora in a very difficult position and exploiting their transaction in a way that most benefits himself, which would take away the stability of Nora and Torvald’s relationship once Torvald uncovers the plot. He seems not to care what happens with Nora and Torvald, showing no compassion or thinking about other perspectives rather than his own.

Is Krogstad a bad person? That is probably not true. Krogstad has suffered lots during his life. His true love, Kristine Linde, chose to marry a rich man instead of him, making him feel despaired. Somehow, supposedly Krogstad widowed a wife a while later, yet kept two children he had with her, inciting that it was probably his wife that left him instead, for he kept the children. Krogstad was then in financial difficulty and was likely forced to resort to forgery in order to produce the money he needed. He was however discovered by the law, and had to run away, probably moving with his children to the town where Torvald and Nora live. In the film rendition of the play, we even see Torvald’s house, a poor ramshackle flat with little decoration. Hardly comparable to Torvald’s home, a well-furnished, embroidered, and ornate multi-level large house. Even more, being in trouble with the law, Krogstad’s options for finding new jobs were few, and he would find difficulty climbing the social ladder to respectability, something he desperately wanted.

Therefore it is hard to condemn Krogstad, for he has been disenfranchised from love, wealth, comfort, and reputability. Torvald however, has all four. Torvald, as a stickler for the law, does not realize the law did not ensure equity, but only justice. Krogstad, stuck in a hard place, was inhibited by the law and its believers to regain his stance. Therefore, he felt justified to exploit his contract with Nora to secure his job, or else he would lose his flow of income.

The character Krogstad portrays a common theme throughout society: condemnation of the poor, and the hypocrisy of the rich. Rich people, although they may be equitable in how they get their money, are damaging to more unfortunate people through being blind to their suffering. Their ignorance to these people is something that has always been around throughout history, from feudal kingdoms to the Soviet Union. The rich live off the backs of the poor, who are not defended by laws to ensure how well off they are. So although at first glance Krogstad may seem as an inconsiderate and exploitive person, further inspection shows that he is simply struggling to survive like many people before and after him. The law is not going to help him, therefore he disrespects it and its believers and chooses to enforce the safety of his job through the contract with Nora, even if he must cause some damage to other people in order to get there.

A Doll’s House

Throughout the play, Henrik Ibsen’s “doll house”, my views and feelings about the characters are constantly changing. At first, I thought Nora was a strong woman who had no choice but to play a naive, ignorant role, but as the plot developed, she was portrayed as a naive, sheltered young woman.

I don’t like Nora, I find her annoying. Towards the end of the third act, I think Torvald’s reaction to Nora’s incident is normal, I think everyone has impulsive moments, also he was oblivious of this secret for 8 years, and he said that it was against his principle to borrow a loan. “You wrecked my entire happiness now. You’ve gambled away my entire future for me. Oh, it’s too terrible to contemplate.”(Act III, p 178). I think it is reasonable how Torvald acted, his pride and reputation is very important for a man, don’t underestimate it. If Torvald has a bad reputation, who will earn money to financially support the family? What if it ends up like Krogstad’s situation? Even though Nora has good motives, she still crossed Torvald’s bottom line, which is borrowing money. At last, I was surprised that she made a decision to leave Torvald. I totally agree with her point of view, but the premise is that there are no children, because if she leaves suddenly, I feel she is very irresponsible and it is a selfish move that she made. However, everyone has their own flaws, and she is still learning and exploring herself so I was happy when she found out that she was important and finally stood up for herself.

I actually dislike Torvald too, the way he treated Nora as a doll. Calling her names like a “song-lark,” a “squirrel,” or a “little spending-bird.” I feel absolutely uncomfortable while watching the movie nor reading the book.

Personal Response to: A Doll’s House

A Doll’s House, written by Henrick Ibsen raised many questions about what is right and what is wrong when it comes to your dignity. Nora lives in a middle-class family, meaning they have the funds to live a pleasant life. However, the word pleasant will never be a safe way to describe this family. With a loan constricting Nora’s reputation, she finds herself pleasing her husband for money. This loan is not however the only problem within the family… The love and dignity we see within the story are not meant to be together. Nora loves Torvald but the moment Torvald shows doubt in his love for her Nora realizes that she no longer loves him. “I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora-bear pain and hardship for your sake. But nobody would sacrifice their honour for the one they love” (p. 186). This is something I feel most women during the 1870s would disagree with. While the man may think that his reputation is more important than love, the women would most probably want love over reputation. The essence in which holds a family together is love, and without it, even from one person, the family cannot live. 

Nora’s character encompassed the idea of love, regret, and change, we saw these ideas as the play progressed. Nora in the book showed love towards most of the characters. She loved: her three children, Ms. Linde, Mr. Rank, and Torvald… This strong bond she shared with all these people caused her to worry ever so more about the loan and Krogstad’s ability to ruin her family’s lives. We saw that she regretted signing the loan, even if she did not say anything, we could see the regret with her facial emotions. She was trapped and her love was the only thing keeping her together but at the same time breaking her life apart. 

Living in a middle-class family, Torvald seemed like an unpleasant husband to Nora because of how he held control over her. “When did my squirrel get home?” (p. 110). With constant animal names, it seemed as if Torvald was showing the difference between Nora and him. The difference is that he was a human, and she was his little animal, his doll. A doll is something children play with, something you keep. We see how Torvald plays around with his doll Nora. With animal names and love which seems one-sided, Nora is like an object to Torvald. He controls her because he is the man, and she accepts it. Nora acts accordingly as Torvald expects her too just so she can get money from him to pay off the loan which Torvald does not know about. 

Krogstad was never a villain, he only acted for his honor and his family, which is what made his actions seem evil. Within the book, there is no inclusion as to how Krogstad’s home looks. Viewing the movie made us sympathize with him even after what he said to Nora. We realize that Krogstad is barely living, he is poor and must take care of his children by himself, he has no one really to love. Not having even an ounce of love in his life made him commit forgery and this is what ruined his entire career moving forward.  

While with some characters we can sympathize with and others we cannot, A Doll’s House shows how love can change everything within your life, it can be what makes you happy, but it can also be what causes your pain. 

Act 3: A Dolls House PR

Ibsen’s a Doll’s House was not what I expected or was hoping for it to be. I was expecting a book showing women’s rights and feminist ideas being presented that was not very excepted at the time by society. I was thinking there would be a strong female with no choice but to behave in certain ways in order to get her there way but fight against this and become an individual. We only get this in the last ten pages of the book which originally confused me and frustrated me in a way. Throughout the majority of the book, we can see Nora behaving as if she was a child while being called names of a small frivolous figure such as “Little Songbird, Little Squirrel, Skylark and little dove.” We see Nora except these names, and it is incredibly frustrating to watch, I found the urge to just want her to stand up for herself and truly speak out of her own opinion. I did not understand why Ibsen didn’t write the play in order to show how strong Nora could be and how women should not be treated as pets and as people with the same feelings as men.

I disliked Nora’s character at the beginning of this book, but towards the end of Act three, her character began to make sense to me. At the beginning of the book, Nora’s spoiled attitude towards everything was annoying, for example when Mrs. Linde comes back into Nora’s life for the first time in years, she has had a rough ten years up to this point and explains it to Nora. Nora realizing this has an incredibly rude reaction, saying. “To be so utterly alone. What a heavy sadness that must be for you. I have three lovely children. Though you can’t see them at the moment, they’re out with their nanny. But now you must tell me everything.” (P. 116) This quote to me shows how clueless Nora is to how society is, she seems to think that everyone is just like her with plenty of money, kids, and a big warm house to live comfortably in with your family. She has been sheltered so much that these things do not occur to her in conversation and make her character come off as uneducated and ignorant. Ibsen Redeems Nora’s character in the book but does not do it until the last ten pages! Nora realizes after Torvald is finished being angry with her about the Loan that he is not the man that she in love with. She takes it into her own hands to then Leave her family and find herself in the world and how society actually is instead of living the masked version of life as she has been. This was the turning point in the book that I had been waiting for the whole time. Nora finally realizes the way she has been living and becomes an individual who makes her own decisions and this to me redeemed Nora’s character.

This book made me think about we as humans are able to make life barrable to continue waking up every day with something to work towards. Nora had no work to feel accomplished about or to work towards. Don’t get me wrong being a mother comes with lots of work on its own, but Nora did not do this work, the maids did the hard work of taking care of the kids. What I’m trying to say is, when a person is living comfortably with nothing to work towards since everything you have is fed to you, you begin to think about what your purpose is and what you are doing in life. Work is a necessary part of living it helps to have something to live for and a purpose. This reminds me of Brave new world in the sense that people cannot live a masked version of life constantly. Instead, they need to become conscious of what the real world is like, in Brave new world the people live constantly on the drug Soma just to consistently stay happy and not have worries about anything as if they were robots. Mrs. Linde also shows this when talking to Krogstad “I have to work if I am to endure this life. Every waking day, as far back as I can remember, I’ve worked and it’s been my only and greatest joy.” (P.167) Mrs. line needs work in order to survive and to her is her only joy. In order to stay content as a society, we need work to help motivate us to get up in the mornings and continue living.

Personal Response: A Doll’s House

“A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen is about love, hate, and trust. With love, you have Dr. Rank secretly loving Nora and finally confessing it later in the play, (Act II, pg. 150-155), Krogstad who loved Kristine years ago, and Nora’s and Torvald’s (Questionable) love. With hate, you have again Nora and Torvald at the end of the story, and Nora plus Torvald hating Krogstad throughout the play for the things he has done. But the big factor that comes into this play is trust. Putting trust in someone you strongly dislike is a dangerous game, like Nora and Krogstad had to do when Krogstad was blackmailing her and she had to promise she would get his job back (Act I, pg. 130-136). Then you have Nora and Torvald’s dilemma. Nora is keeping all these little promises and lying to Torvald throughout the play, and that break of trust at the end of the play when Torvald finds out what happened (Act III, pg. 177-188).

My thoughts on the play are quite mixed. It was a good read but got very boring at times. I felt that there was too much talking between characters and a lot of useless dialogue that did not need to be added. Then the characters weren’t developed enough. They felt so simple and nothing interesting about them and didn’t feel likable. One thing I didn’t understand is Nora forging the contract. Wouldn’t she have done a better job of putting the date of the signature? And why did she even admit to forging it? Everything would’ve been better off if she just left it as it was. For the setting, I didn’t understand the layout. They made it sound very confusing and did not know if it was a house or an apartment complex.
The one big thing I liked about this play was the plot. I felt they did a good job on building it and the diversity it had, like the writer mixing the dark and light sides of the story. I was quite confused about the language of the play. Even though it was set in the mid 19th century, it left like it wasn’t set back then.

One character I thought had the most build-up/developed was Krogstad. For me, he was considered the “villain” for a majority of the play, but once you consider that he just wanted to keep his job so he can feed and take care of his kids, you might have second thoughts if he was the villain, or if he just desperate and went into territory he didn’t want to step in. The one character that didn’t get enough attention in my opinion was Kristine. She played an important role in the play because if it wasn’t for her, Krogstad would not have gone and not have helped Nora from Torvald. My least favourite character was Torvald. Overall did not like him as a character. He was very diverse with emotion toward Nora and a few other characters. For example: When he found out about the forgery that Nora committed, he wanted to kill her, but once it was cleared up at that exact moment, he looked like nothing had happened and he loved her again (Act III, pg. 177-188).

Overall, it was quite a confusing read, but for the most part, I enjoyed reading it and was wondering what would happen next. A few of the characters could have had better development, and the setting could have been more straight-forward, but still an intriguing play.

Personal Response: A Doll’s House

In A Doll’s House by Henik Ibsen, we are introduced to the marriage of Nora Helmer and Torvald Helmer. Nora is introduced to us as a pretty and cheerful woman living out her days as a mother and wife. Torvald Helmer is represented as cold and strict, where his transitional views carry the play. Throughout the play, we slowly see the unraveling of their marriage, and Nora’s perspective of her own life changes dramatically.

I thoroughly enjoy this play, and it’s important input about gender roles and women rights. At times, it made me feel uncomfortable and embarrassed, mostly to do with Torvald and Nora’s relationship. Nora’s first appearance seems like she was there to “represent” all women of that time. She seemed naive and silly, brought up in a world where her only importance was to look pretty and bare children. She delightfully took the role as Torvald’s wife.“To be so utterly alone. What a heavy sadness that must be for you. I have three lovely children. Though you can’t see them at the moment, they’re out with their nanny. But now, you must tell me everything—“ (pg.116) Even when talking to a close friend, she only talks about herself, completely ignoring the fact that Ms. Linde has gone through the ringer. I thought this showed a lack of character, careless for others. As the play continues, we see her own selfish show again. When speaking to Dr. Rank in Act 2, he is expressing his troubles to her, and in response she states “Oh, you’re being quite unreasonable today. And just when I wanted you to be in a really good mood.”(pg.151). To me, this shows her lack of sympathy towards others than herself. She doesn’t comfort him but instead tries to manipulate him so she can get what she wants. I started to enjoy her character more in Act 3. It seemed like she completely changed in the span of two days, became a totally different person. I thought it was very impressive of her not only to leave but to talk to Torvald about why she is leaving, “It’s not so late yet. Sit down here, Torvald; you and I have a to talk about.”(pg.181) Running away is one thing, but this is different. She isn’t just leaving her “home”, but is telling him why, hopefully forever leaving an impact in his life. I also think being able to talk about your problems and how someone did you wrong takes a lot of courage, especially for being a woman in that time frame. She was more bold, and didn’t budge when Torvald asked her to stay. I felt more connected to her when she stood up to him, showing that she now wants to go and make her own in the world.

A Doll’s House shows us Nora’s breakdown of her “reality”, and her breaking free from society’s grasp on women. She is no longer playing a role, but becoming her own person. Even if she still carries some flaws, she is doing all of us a favour by standing up for what she believes in.

Personal response: A Doll’s House

Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House was uncomfortable to read for me. I dislike Torvald, not because of how he appears as an antagonist where he loathes borrowing a loan even if it is for his own sake; but it is rather because everything he says is contradictory. When he tells Nora, “I wouldn’t wish you any other way than exactly as you are,” (p. 113) he means that he doesn’t wish Nora any other way than a “song-lark,” a “squirrel,” or a “little spending-bird.” He cannot accept Nora in any other way and calls her “a hypocrite, a liar,” and a “criminal” when he finds out. (p. 178) He cannot accept the depth of Nora’s character and truly treats her like his possession; an object.  When Nora  finally talks to him on equal terms, he said, “you talk like a child.” (p. 185) However, when Nora acts like an actual child and asks for his guidance, he accepts it happily, which I find incredibly hypocritical and uneasy to watch. When Nora leaves him at the end, I thought I would be happy because Torvald is left alone and got what he deserved, but instead, it was not satisfying and I ended up feeling bad for Torvald. “To part—to part from you! Nora, I can’t grasp the thought.” (p. 187) Although Torvald remains masculine and a “husband-like” image throughout the play, he is fragile in the sense that he is afraid of living without Nora, even though he has less to lose than her. However, even though I feel bad for him, I still can’t forgive him especially when he proposed “but then can’t we live here as brother and sister–?” (p. 187) I wonder why do some people think this is even possible? Even till the end of the play, Torvald still cannot understand why Nora decides to leave him and the children, which upsets me the most.

I didn’t like Nora as a character at first, and I didn’t pity her very much or treat her as a victim. I thought she placed herself in the situation, and I particularly didn’t like how she borrowed a loan without understanding exactly how to repay it. “These kinds of transactions, you see, are so extremely difficult to keep track of.” (p. 123) But she didn’t have any other options other than to urgently borrow money to save Torvald’s life. If I were Nora, I wouldn’t have done any better. I also think she is far from ready to raise three children, even with the help of maids and a nanny.

Helmer: Not–? Not happy?

Nora: No; just cheerful. And you’ve always been so kind to me. But our home has never been anything other than a play-house. I’ve been your doll-wife here, just as at home I was Daddy’s doll-child. And the children, they have in turn been my dolls.” (p. 183)

It is not because of Nora’s “moral flaw” that makes her unqualified as a mother. It is because of how she has never fulfilled any duties to herself, or to live as a human being that makes her unable to bring up her children.

I felt very uncomfortable and confused as I read this play. But I conclude it is because of how I was able to relate to it, that I disliked it. However, I think all the characters in this play are equally as pitiful.

 

 

Personal Response to A Doll’s House

Throughout a large portion of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Nora leads a pleasant, mundane life. Filled with Torvald’s stern finger wagging (p. 113) and Nora’s pretty responses like, “Yes, yes, as you wish” (p. 111), the entire balance of their relationship is established. Nora never threatens Torvald’s “manly self-esteem” (p. 122), so long as he keeps providing her with a comfortable lifestyle and spending-money. Torvald calls Nora his “squirrel”, his “songbird”, his “spendthrift”, and rather than annoyance, she receives those possessive pet-names with affection and silliness. At the start of this play, I was filled with anticipation for Nora’s anger to finally surface. However, at every moment where I felt my own rage toward Torvald, she seems perfectly fine with his patriarchal, paternal actions and words. Their marriage feels more playful than anything else—like a game between a father and his beloved little girl. Torvald indulges on Nora’s frivolity and childlike behaviours, whereas Nora indulges on Torvald’s earnings. It is only at her rather late breaking-point that Nora finally realizes this: the fact that as husband and wife, they have never once “exchanged a serious word about serious things” (p. 182).

Nora doesn’t experience a lengthy buildup to the culmination of this play. She doesn’t gather clues or data points supporting the toxicity of their relationship. She doesn’t consult a friend on her concerns. In fact, she doesn’t even have concerns needing to be addressed, other than the money she borrowed to save Torvald. She appears to lack perspective and intelligence, especially when talking to Kristine in Act I, yet we begin to see that perhaps that’s a product of the environment she has been raised and placed in,

Torvald: You talk like a child. You don’t understand the society you live in. 

Nora: No, I don’t. But I intend to look into it. I must find out who is right, society or me. (p. 185)

Within this dialogue, Torvald attempts to gaslight Nora—to convince her that she’s being a naive child. In return, Nora provides a sophisticated response, questioning the role we all play in society. Is it our jobs to uphold societal standards when they’re perpetuating harm? Is it our duty to combat these stereotypes and norms, in order to create change? If her surrounding society has been teaching her that she’s nothing more than a silly, frivolous, scatterbrained woman her whole life, why would she act any differently? Why would she try to prove them wrong, especially since her life isn’t even bad? She has been assimilated into a typical 19th century daughter and wife—into a doll. The pinnacle of this play doesn’t occur incrementally, it’s more of a flipped switch in Nora’s mind. When Torvald doesn’t defend her after discovering that she borrowed money, she has an important realization: Torvald is only a loving husband in the good moments, which is negated by his anger and distance in this particular bad moment. When she’s conforming to a subservient position as his ideal doll, he’s satisfied, but when she acts like an actual human being—strong, imperfect, and real—he shows hostility.

In several ways, our current society reflects the one presented in A Doll’s House. Femininity is often associated with sensitivity, sweetness, modesty, and fragility, whereas masculinity is associated with strength, independence, assertiveness, and bravery. These stereotypical gender roles continuously put stress on both men and women, not to mention how non inclusive they are to those who are nonbinary. When we assign these qualities and establish this social construct, we are creating a sense of invalidity for many. In this play, Nora tells Kristine about the business she has been conducting, and says, “It was almost as though I was a man” (p. 123). For doing something as unrelated to gender as business ought to be, she feels detached from womanhood. As we witness through Nora, gender norms give people a false impression of who they can and cannot be. They build boundaries, enforce segregation. Then, when people combat these stereotypes, they are often met with problematic, even dangerous responses. Perhaps, breaking down these boundaries is exactly what we need to thrive as a society. Everyone should have the right to emulate and challenge these norms, without being forced to question their own identities (though they certainly can if they want to!). So much has changed between our society and Ibsen’s one, hopefully indicating that this progression will come, as well.

A Doll’s House: Personal Response

For me, “A Doll’s House,” by Henrik Ibsen, raised many questions about what it takes to work a marriage and why development is essential for every individual. The play focuses on patriarchal male figures and the oppression of women in the 1800s. It expresses how women weren’t capable of much other than housekeeping, mentioning their “duty” was to take care of their family before themselves.

My opinions and feelings towards the characters fluctuate throughout the play. At first, I was aware of Nora being a somewhat brave character, someone who took a risk to save her husband’s life, but as the play developed, she was portrayed as this naive and childish character. “Come here. Now I will show you that I too have something to be proud and glad of. It was I who saved Torvald’s life.” (A1. P13). It’s immature of Nora to prove herself to anyone or explain she has been through difficult times by telling them her most confidential secret. I think she might so desperately want to prove herself because she has been looked down upon for a long time. Reading through Nora’s character in the play, I realized that some of the things she says or does are infuriating. “You must be a very poor lawyer, Mr. Krogstad.” (A1. P26). She is not witty, confident in herself, or convincible; I say this because she often sobs or stutters as she presents her argument. My detestation towards Nora grew tremendously in Act 2; she overreacted to the most invaluable circumstances and became more stubborn as the play continued. “…but you could just as well dismiss some other clerk instead of Krogstad.” (A2. P36). It’s surprising that Nora only cares about herself and is ready to sacrifice anyone for the sake of her stability. Coming towards the end of Act 3, it was startling to find myself quite proud of Nora as she made a brave decision to leave Torvald. I completely agree with her because it is important to discover yourself before helping others, she finally stepped up for herself, and I am delighted with her conclusion. 

Opposite to Nora’s naive character is Torvald, an arrogant and oppressive male who cares about nothing but his reputation and career. He constantly referred to Nora as a helpless little girl, his dearest treasure (A3. P60), that shouldn’t do anything but look after the family.  “Miserable creature — what have you done?”(A3. P65). I think he tremendously overreacted when he became aware of Nora’s deeds; she was right to do what she did as she had good intentions. “a hypocrite, a liar– worse, worse — a criminal!” (A3. P66). Torvald cursed at her repeatedly but just a few minutes later had a change of heart and pretended to be the sweetest husband ever. I think he is helpless without Nora.

Nora and Torvald did not have a successful marriage as neither of them understood each other. People need to realize that women have passions too, everyone has a different way of living life, and some might choose to take other paths instead of being housewives. In the end, “A Doll’s House” is one of my most disliked plays; while reading it, I felt as if I were analyzing and solving a family dispute and playing the role of a therapist.

WDolan “Doll’s house” Personal Reponse Act 3

I enjoyed ‘A Doll’s House’ by Henrik Ibsen immensely. I think the title of the play was fitting as Torvald continuously manipulated Nora like a doll and treated her as a child or non-human inferior creature.

I liked Nora, as I thought she represented the qualities of strong women. I sympathized for her since she has been treated as Torvald’s possession throughout the entire story. He calls her ‘treasure’, ‘skylark’, ‘sweet tooth’, and so on. However, I was intrigued by how she was so blunt about leaving her children. I did not know whether to think of her as an irresponsible mother, or someone who has been through enough pain and deserved to live a free life. I do not like Helmer because he is manipulative and he suggests throughout the play that Nora is stupid and that he loves her for her attractive appearance.

I thought the ending was disappointing because it was so abrupt, and Nora willingly left her children behind. However, Nora’s desperation and confrontation with Torvald Helmer felt realistic because she knew he would not want her to leave. One question Act III raised for me was: ‘In what sense does Helmer’s attitude reflect society in the past and present?’ 

In conclusion,  I gained more perspective on the social structure and expected behavior from women within that time frame. Women seemed taken advantaged of for their appearance rather being respected for their qualities.

How artists increase impact by contrasting form with content

Artists of all sorts contrast form and content to increase the impact of their work on the audience. Here are some examples.

Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time:

They shot the six cabinet ministers at half-past six in the morning against the wall of a hospital. There were pools of water in the courtyard. There were wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard. It rained hard. All the shutters of the hospital were nailed shut. One of the ministers was sick with typhoid. Two soldiers carried him down stairs and out into the rain. They tried to hold him up against the wall but he sat down in a puddle of water. The other five stood very quietly against the wall. Finally the officer told the soldiers it was no good trying to make him stand up. When they fired the first volley he was sitting down in the water with his head on his knees.

Hemingway’s low-key, matter-of-fact description increases the horror of what he describes.

John Keats, “In drear-nighted December”: Here Keats uses a sing-songy rhythm that might be found in a nursery rhyme, but the content of the poem is tragic.

I
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy Branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them,
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

II
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy Brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

III
Ah! would ’twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any 
Writh’d not of passéd joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it,
Nor numbéd sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.

Musicians can do similar things. Here is Stevie Wonder using a musical form from an 18th century European court—chamber music—to sing about the horrors of life in an urban ghetto in the 20th century:

And here is the Kronos Quartet using the instruments of chamber music to play Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” (If you don’t know Hendrix’s original version, you should find it on YouTube before you listen to the Kronos Quartet’s version.)

So, what does all of this have to do with Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House? Plenty! Ibsen uses the comfortable, familiar form of a “well-made play,” a form that was immensely popular in the 19th century, just as TV situation comedies were immensely popular in the second half of the 20th century. Put very simply, the form involves typical, middle-class people; plot complications; and then a clever twist that puts everything right at the end. The characters were usually stereotypes.

Ibsen takes this form and puts into it radical, challenging ideas about women, marriage, money, sex, social hypocrisy, etc. A Doll’s House caused widespread outrage when it first appeared in the 1870s, and a good deal of that impact comes from Ibsen’s clever use of this old artist’s trick: using a form that leads the audience to expect one sort of thing, and then giving them something very different.

Doll house

A key question brought to light in this play is “Do the characters in relationships/marriages actually love each other?” Throughout the play we see that Torvald and Nora seem to be in a happy relationship, but through the play we see that Torvald sees Nora as his toy, or as the title says, a doll. He does not love her, but he rather sees her as a trophy, and instead of loving her, he admires her, saying things about her for example she’s something “worth looking at”. Nora’s idea of a marriage is that whoever has the power in the relationship, has control over the marriage, which Torvald ultimately has, as he is the one with the money.  Nora ends up leaving her husband, due to her finally coming to the realization that she is being utterly controlled by Torvald, similar to the situation with her father, who treated her like his doll. She wants to become educated, and vows to become independent in her own actions. She married Torvald not for the sake of love, but for other reasons, like security and financial purposes. A good example of a true relationship is the one between Mrs. Linde and Krogstad. These two are not together for their own needs and wants, but for each other. They depend on each other and truly care for each other, rather than using each other to each’s benefit.