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A Doll's House as a Problem Play

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1099 words Published: 28th Jun 2017

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“A Doll’s House” is one of the major realistic problem plays of Henrik Ibsen. In “A Doll’s House”, Nora Helmer is the main character. She is the wife of Torvald Helmer, who is a bank manager. The story happens when Christmas is coming. To keep the job in Torvald’s bank, Krostad, who is the man that Nora borrowed money from to pay the trip to Italy to cure her husband, threatens her that he will tell Torvald she forged her father’s signature to borrow money if she doesn’t help him to talk with Torvald. She tries to do what Krostad wants because she is fearful that she will lose the family when Torvald knows about that. However, what she is afraid of happen. She spends a whole night to think about what happened, and she realized that Torvald and she don’t understand each other. Finally, she decides to leave him and her children to discover her own life where she can find her own self.

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By separating the various themes of faux marriage and broken family, Henrik Ibsen focuses on the place of women with Nora as his central character. Nora chooses divorce at the end to free not only Torvald but also herself. Just holding a marriage without love, communication, trust, and toleration, the marriage between them cannot last forever. The reasons that lead to divorce in the play are relevant in the world today.

Love is the first base to build a strong marriage. Without love, marriage will be destroyed easily. In “A Doll’s House” play, the marriage of Torvald and Nora is seemed very happy, but truthfully, Torvald didn’t really love Nora. With him, she is woman who is under his control. After her forging her father’s signature is disclosed, she realizes that her marriage is built without their real love. Torvald pretends to love Nora, and she pretends to love him. She feels that she is living a lie while she lives with him as a doll. She did and thought the same as what he said. Nora claims, “…You arranged everything to your tastes, and I acquired the same tastes. Or I pretended to… I don’t really know… I think it was a bit of both, sometimes one thing and sometimes the other. When I look back, it seems to me I have been living here like a beggar, from hand to mouth…(Ibsen 858). When Torvald asked whether she had been happy living with him or not, she answers no although she hopes that she was. Therefore, building a marriage without love definitely hurts the relationship between husband and wife as it hurt the relationship between Torvald and Nora. A balance of love is needed in any marriage.

Another quality that leads to failed marriage in the play and the world today is the lack of communication. Two soul-mates need to communicate in a relationship. Because Nora understands Torvald’s character and doesn’t want to let him worry, she didn’t talk to him about borrowing money from Krogstad to cure his illness. Moreover, when they talk to each other, they always say about money and work. In the Act I, Nora is seen as a spendthrift her husband’s eyes. She always says money when Torvald asks her what she wants. Because of that fact, Torvald seem to be a person who really loves his wife when he agrees with all her requests, but he didn’t know what she really wants. The lack of communication makes them cannot understand each other. In the play, Nora realizes that they didn’t talk enough through eight years when she says, “We have now been married eight years. Hasn’t it struck you this is the first time you and I, man and wife, have had a serious talk together?” (Ibsen 858). The answer was no. That is why Nora didn’t tell her husband about her secret. Just because of the poor communication, a marriage can never hope to live onward.

Although love and communication are important in marriage, trust is also necessary to build a marriage stronger. Torvald had almost no trust in Nora. When Nora needed some money to buy some things for Christmas, he jeered at her. He state, “…if only you really did buy something for yourself with it. But it just get mixed up with the housekeeping and frittered away on all sorts of useless thing, and then I have to dig into my pocket all over again” (Ibsen 815). With spendthrift character, Nora lacks trust in her husband, and it is not good for their marriage. It makes them have no trust or even suspect each other. Without trust, marriage becomes impossible.

Last but not least, toleration is also necessary in marriage to help them closer. Although they have a good relationship, if they don’t have toleration, they will be separated. In the play, both Torval and Nora don’t have toleration. This is one of the reasons that lead to their divorce. When Torvald know about what Nora have done, he very angry and doesn’t want to forgive her for her fault. He even requests that she has to stay away form him. When he reads the second letter from Krosgtad, he is calmed down and forgives for her fault, but it was too late because she realizes that he didn’t love her. She is the same as her husband. She cannot forgive for a person who cares nothing more than him. She finally decides to leave her family to discover a new life where she can find her own self. She says, “If I never reach any understanding of myself and the thing around me, I must learn to stand alone. That’s why I can’t stay here with you any longer” (Ibsen 859). With the strong tone, her determined attitude about leaving is shown up although Torvald begs her to stay with him.

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In conclusion, “A Doll’s House” is a great play of Henrik Ibsen. “A Doll’s House” leaves us a message that holding a marriage without four qualities above is impossible. The marriage of Torvald and Nora Helmer had many problems because they got married without real love, hold their marriage without trust, have the poor communication to understand each other, and have no toleration to forgive for their faults. “A Doll’s House” teaches us a lesson that getting married with our loves is easy, but keeping our marriage can last forever is not easy as we thought.

Work Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House.” Literature for Composition. Ed. Sylvan Barnet et al. 8th ed. New York: Longman, 2007. 813-862.


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