A Doll’s House: a Marriage Revealed
In the play A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibson, Torvald and Nora have an unacceptable marriage that only leads to problems.The marriage, and the household, is overrun by male dominance that prevents Nora and Torvald from complete love and marital respect.Relating to the play’s name, Torvald treats Nora, and even his children, as his dolls, expecting them to be as he wants.
As the play progresses, we see the truth of the. The play was set in the late 1800’s, so in this time it was customary for the man to be the provider and the woman do what she is told.
However, Torvald took it to the next step in believing that Nora and his kids were there for him to dictate in every way. Nora doesn’t help the situation as she has become fully dependent on Torvald, just as she was with her father. Torvald seems to take this to his advantage and uses her for whatever he wants or needs, right down to whom she is supposed to speak, and what she has to tell Torvald. After Krogstad confronts Nora about putting in a good word for him, Torvald comes in and begins to question Nora about it, at a point in which they exchange these words:
HELMER: Nora, Nora, and you could fall for that? Talk with that sort of person and promise him anything? And then in bargain, tell me an untruth? NORA: An untruth–? HELMER: Didn’t you say that no one had been here? (wagging his finger) My little songbird must never do that again. A songbird needs a clean beak to warble with. No false notes. That’s the way it should be, isn’t it? Yes, I’m sure of it. And so, enough of that. As it can be seen, Torvald puts the hold on Nora that she can only have certain relations, and if he asks of something she must tell him everything.
This kind of hold can make any serious matter somewhat tense, or even awkward, which is why their marriage lacks anything beyond light and playful. Torvald refers to Nora with nicknames such as “squirrel” and “spendthrift”, which are little pet names he has given her that show what place he puts her in. He uses these names when he is having her do something he wants her to do, Nora seems to like these names, and whenever referred to as one, she does little dances and acts to keep Torvalds’ attention.
Due to how Nora’s father was, she is used to this kind of treatment where she is Torvalds’ doll, and he does with her what he wants. It has made her completely dependent on him and allows him to make every decision for her, from what she and the kids should do, to what costume she is to wear to their party. As the play progresses, we see the realization build up more and more in Nora as things with Krogstad and the loan forgery become more and more involved. She becomes a little more distant form Torvald every time they have a conversation, and his ways don’t change.
At the end, Torvald receives Krogstads’ letter revealing what all is truly going on, and that Nora forged her father’s signature to get money to save Torvald’s life. Krogstad will be using it to his advantage, and Torvald unleashes his anger on Nora, demeaning her and claiming she has practically ruined his life. In the midst of his raid, he lets it all be known: HELMER: Oh, what an awful awakening! In all these eight years—she who was my pride and joy—a hypocrite, a liar—worse, worse—a criminal! How infinitely disgusting it all is! The shame!
I should have suspected something of the kind. I should have known. All your father’s flimsy values have come out in you. No religion, no morals, no sense of duty—Oh, how I’m punished for letting him off! I did it for your sake, and you repay me like this! Torvald continues on, until Krogstad sends another letter to let Torvald know that things have changed and he needs not to worry. At this point, Torvald begins to act like everything is okay and Nora should feel the same, but she has decided to leave. Nora and Torvald sit down and she begins to tell him how she really feels.
She finally realizes that she is his doll, and not even her own person. She now wants to go out on her own and find her own thoughts and beliefs and become someone real. In conclusion, they come to see that in their eight years of marriage, there has never been real true love, or any true communication, which ultimately brought the marriage. Torvald doesn’t seem to quite grasp it all, or why the greatest miracle would be their living together in a true marriage. But, after all he has put her through, they could never live in true marital bliss, or even with just true feelings towards each other.