Title: A Doll’s House
Author: Henrik Ibsen
Publisher: Dover Thrift
number of pages: 72
my rating: 4/5
A Doll’s House is realistic play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The plot centers on the marriage life of Nora, a seemingly ridiculous housewife who is merely not taken seriously and controlled by her husband Helmer, who has recently been promoted at the bank. Nora has forged her father’s signature to pay for a visit to Italy with her ill husband without his knowledge, making him think that her father provided the money. When her childhood friend, Mrs Linde, is desperately seeking a job, Nora promises to ask her husband to give her one. This threatens the job of Krogstad, a lawyer, who may be replaced by Mrs. Linde. He happens to be Nora’s secret loaner, so he blackmails her, threatening to reveal Nora’s forgery if his job is given to Linde, even though he has also committed forgery before. This leaves Nora anxious, as she travails to prevent Helmer’s reading of a letter from Krogstad; this situation forces her to confront her husband and finally question her role as woman.
Ibsen’s uniqueness is his ability to convey everyday and realistic situations with suspense. Nora is woman trapped in society’s perception of a wife’s role. She is playfully addressed by her husband, who calls her a “skylark” and a “squirrel”, and as Nora herself says in the end, has never addressed her seriously. Although Nora proves that she subliminally understood her hapless role, she seemed unconscious of it, accepting her husband’s ridiculous remarks. At the end, she commits the scandalous doing of leaving her children and her husband, declaring, “ I believe that before all else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are…” and slamming the door shut after herself. Before a woman leaves her husband, she may stay for the sake of her children, but Nora does not do this. She considers herself a human being before she is a wife and mother, and does not let this alter her decision.
According to Sparknotes, Ibsen’s believes that both partners should treat each other equally in a marriage. Nora’s abandoning her husband and children may have been scandalous, and arguably irresponsible, but I think that Ibsen posed that question as a reflection of the society he was living in, which is comparable to today’s.