We have all felt the need to be alone or to venture to places that our minds have only imagined. However, we as individuals have always found ourselves clutching to our responsibilities and obligations, to either our jobs or our friends and family. The lingering feeling of leaving something behind or of promises that have been unfulfilled is a pain that keeps us from escaping. People worldwide have yearned for a need to leave a situation or seek spiritual fulfillment elsewhere. The need for ones freedom and their responsibility to others can make or break a person.
Henrik Isbens inspirational characters of Nora Helmer, Kristine Linde, and Nils Krogstad have all had to suffer for their right to be individuals and to be accountable for their actions. A woman of the tough Victorian period, Nora Helmer was both a prisoner of her time as well as a pioneer. In her society women were viewed as an inferior species and were not even considered real human beings in the eyes of the law. Nora and other women soon discovered that it was a mans world and they were just not allowed to participate in it.
Women of that era though, were allowed to stay at home and adhere to their tired, overworked spouses needs, not to mention their constant obligation to their children. Women in those days were only allowed to work solely at home or to have minor jobs such as maids or dressmakers. Nora was a free spirit just waiting to be freed; her husband Torvald would constantly disallow the slightest pleasures that she aspired to have, such as macaroons. Nora lived a life of lies in order to hold her marriage together. She kept herself pleased with little things such as telling Dr.
Rank and Mrs. Linde; I have such a huge desire to say-to hell and be damned! (Isben 59) Just so she could release some tension that was probably building inside her due to all the restrictions that Torvald had set up, such as forbidding macaroons. The need for her to consume these macaroons behind her controlling husbands back was a way for her to satisfy her sense of needing to be an independent woman. Upon the arrival of her old friend Kristine Linde, Nora took it upon herself to find her friend a job since she had gone through a lot in her life.
She asked her husband Torvald, who also happened to be the new manager at the bank if Kristine could have a job and he responded with an afirmative response. Mrs. Helmer had also stated that she had single handedly saved her husbands life when she took out a loan for his benefit. However, in those days women were unable to get a loan without their husbands consent or another males signature, so Nora took it upon herself to forge her fathers signature in order to secure the welfare of Torvald. She saw it as her obligation as a loving wife to break the law so she would be able to save a life, especially when it was the life of her husband.
Others though saw it as a criminal offence; Nils Krogstad for example accused Nora of violating the law to which Nora replied: This I refuse to believe. A daughter hasnt the right to protect her dying father from anxiety and care? A wife hasnt the right to save her husbands life? I dont know much about laws but Im sure that somewhere in the books these things are allowed. And you dont know anything about it-you who practice the law? You must be an awful lawyer, Mr. Krogstad. (Isben 67) Nora saw the law as something which, stood in the way of her responsibility to her family not to mention to herself.
If she were to of told her ill father about her situation concerning Torvalds health he could have died due to stress of hearing this news. If she had spoken to Torvald about his illness he would have forbidden her from carrying it on because he wouldnt want to be in debt to a women, and more importantly his wife; his pride as a male would have been crushed. It was her responsibility that she did not disclose that information to Torvald because of the repercussions it would bring. At the conclusion of the play Nora knows that her secret will be revealed and awaits Torvalds reaction to it.
When she learns that her marriage was a sham and it was a one sided, playful wedlock she decided to leave Torvald. Torvlad makes many futile attempts to make her stay concerning her duties to her husband and children to which Nora tells him that she has other duties; duties to herself. Torvald pleads with her that before all else; she is his wife and the mother of their children, to which Nora says: I dont believe in that anymore. I believe that, before all else, Im a human being, no less than you-or anyway I ought to try to become one.
I know the majority thinks youre right, Torvald, and plenty of books agree with you, too. But I cant go on being satisfied with what the majority says, or whats written in books. I have to think over these things myself and try to understand them. (Isben 111) In her leaving and the abandoning of her family and the memories that coincide with them, Nora was able to gain her freedom as an individual and was now in search for new responsibilities. Other people seek out independence and accountability through personal experience and by themselves.
Kristine Linde, a childhood friend of Nora has had to strive for all that she wanted. In her past she had at one time had a serious relationship with Mr. Krogstad, but due to circumstances beyond her power she had to give up her life with him. It was all due to her mothers ailment and her obligation to her younger brothers that she had to take it upon herself to marry a wealthy man so she could make her mothers last days enjoyable. With all the extra money she could afford to help her brothers and live the good life.
This though all came crashing down on her when her husband died and she was left a penniless widow. She took it on herself to work in a mans world and be faced with the obstacles that would constantly confront her. She became a teacher and worked many odd jobs before Torvald gave her a job in his bank. She sees Nora as the ideal wife, and as everything that she wants to be. Kristine believes that Nora has had it easy in life in comparison to her, Kristine has had to fulfill her obligations to her family not to mention herself while suffering long years of unhappiness in a marriage to a man she did not love.
Kristine then hears of all the trouble that Nora had gone through and the secrets that she had to keep and attempts to right the wrong that Krogstad is trying to do to her. Mrs. Linde feels slightly responsible for what Krogstad is doing because of what she had did to him in the past. She believes that if she had not left him he would have never of become this sly individual who is not only pestering one of her friends but blackmailing her as well. Mrs. Linde attempts to get Krogstad to withdraw his letter to Torvald concerning all of Noras secrets.
During their conversation she admits her love for him, not only because she felt responsible for his current situation but she also felt that she needed to fulfill the responsibility to her heart and her emotional wellbeing. Kristine tells Nils that: I have to work to go on living. All my born days, as long as I can remember, Ive worked, and its been my best and my only joy. But now Im completely alone in the world, so terribly lost and forsaken. To work for yourself-theres no joy in that. Nils, give me something-someone to work for. (Isben 96) She is ever constantly striving for no one but herself and it is hurting her inside.
Telling Krogstad about her feelings towards him frees her from all the years of guilt and sets up a new beginning for her. Kristine begins her new life by not holding on to lies and tells Krogstad not to take back his letter but instead, leave it there so the truth can be revealed. In her rekindled relationship with Krogstad, Kristine had learned that a healthy relationship must go on without lies. She believes that Helmers got to learn everything; this dreadful secret has to be aired; those two have to come to a full understanding; all these lies and evasions cant go on.
Isben 97) She has the forethought to see that Noras lies will only cause her pain and like Torvald said Because that kind of atmosphere of lies infects the whole life of a home. Every breath the children take is filled with the germs of something degenerate. (Isben 70) Which in time might prove to be true and would eventually be the cause of their separation. Finally, other people have had to fight for their freedom and therefore accept responsibility for their actions, just like Nils Krogstad.
Mr. Krogstad was once a good man until his world fell apart when Kristine dumped him. It was due to a rash action of his that his reputation had been tarnished, his case never went to court but all doors were closed to him and he took up some corrupt activities to support himself. He felt quite responsible for his actions and for the sake of his sons he wanted to reform and started the process with his job at the bank. When his position was threatened he took it on himself to first ask Nora to persuade her husband to let him keep his job.
When that failed he decided to blackmail her and do it legally; he as a lawyer knew that Nora had committed forgery when she took out a loan and it was his responsibility to report it. This all changed when Kristine had the opportunity to speak with him alone during the Helmers party. There in the secret blanket of the dark, Kristine was able to convince Krogstad that she still truly loved him and because of her announcement he deduced that he had wronged the Helmers entirely wondering Oh, if only I could take it all back.
Isben 97) Kristine then informs Krogstad that he can still take his letter back, but after he decides to demand his letter back; Kristine tells him that he cant and that the truth must be revealed. With a new lust for life and responsibility to his new life with Kristine, he agrees. In finding a renewed life with Kristine, Nils Krogstad has been granted the freedom from his past that he constantly awaited and has found his new responsibility to his children and to Mrs. Linde.
We all have wanted to go out on our own and fulfill our responsibility to ourselves. However our need to find our individuality can lead to our downfall or in most cases our uprising. In Isbens play A Doll House, an estranged wife, Nora Helmer; an independent working woman, Kristine Linde; and a morally corrupt man, Nils Krogstad, had all suffered to become individuals in their own right and have taken accountability for their actions to achieve their freedom.