Eric Bentley’s Criticism of Krogstad’s Character in a Doll’s House

When Eric Bentley wrote in “Ibsen, Pro and Con” that Krogstad was “a mere pawn of the plot. ” adding that “When convenient to Ibsen, he is a blackmailer. When inconvenient, he is converted,” I believe he had entirely missed the point of his character in A Doll House. Krogstad’s characterization is a flagship example of the way Henrik Ibsen wrote all the characters in the play: representations of man’s true multi­faceted nature.

On the surface the reader makes quick judgement about the content of the roles’ characters; Nora, ditzy; Torvald, loving; Linde, reliable; and Krogstad, evil. It is not merely a convenience to the plot when Krogstad’s true nature is revealed, but the first obvious example of Ibsen’s desire to show the reader that not everyone is simply a one­layered individual, and not everyone is just as they seem. When the reader realizes that the source of Krogstad’s misdeeds lies in result of his troubled past and love for Mrs. Linde in Act 3 when he says, “When I lost you, it was as if all the solid ground kage,” readers no longer view him as the villain they saw before.

By the end of the novel Nora “believe[s] that first and foremost [she is] an individual, just as [Torvald is]” and “stands alone” rather than beneath Torvald’s thumb. Torvald, himself, is no longer the perfect husband and morally upright, but more like Nora’s original characterization with a desperation for a perfect doll house. Mrs. Linde who seemed independent and well­off living for herself at the beginning of play reveals her want to be a mother and care for others again by the end. went from under my feet. Look at me now—I am a shipwrecked man clinging to a bit of wreck. Ibsen’s Krogstad is no more a flip­flop of characterization than any other character in the play, but this flop is not just a simple plot device. The revelation of the changes in all the roles are not actually changes at all, they are simply the reveal of the multiple layers to each of them.

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