A Doll house by Henrik Ibsen is the story of one womans struggle to free herself from a world of guilt and false livelihood. The story is based on the authors own account of a fellow friend and journalist named Laura Peterson Kieler who was burdened with a hidden crime just as Nora, the main character, is(Ibsen, 1785). According to Ibsen, Kieler illegally borrowed money with the help of a bank associate by forging the signature of her wealthy father. The money was used to pay for her ailing husbands medical needs.
Ibsens storyline in A Dollhouse is an exact replica of the events of Kielers conflicts, but he character of Nora is based on another figure, Ibsens wife Suzanna(Ibsen, 1787). Noras doll-like demeaner and appearence is how Ibsen supposedly viewed his wife. This doll/independent woman identity crisis harbored by Nora becomes the other main conflict in the story. This false personality is based on the dependence she has on her husband and her fear of being alone. This doll appearance becomes more prevalent after her crime is committed because she feels she has to keep everything in perfect, dollhouse order or her secret will be revealed.
Because her true self, strong and independent, is held back nd baracaded with with lies and fear, she almost loses her mind as the story unfolds. Although her main conflicts are held within her trapped and confused mind, other main struggles are created through her numerous and overbearing relationships with the other characters in the play. These relationships along with the relationships between other characters evolve into continuous strains on the already puzzled mind of Nora and become as important as any other conflict in the play. The central relationship in the play revolves around Nora and her husband Torvald.
The titled dollhouse is created because of the way they act toward each other. Nora, being Torvalds baby and unmovable attachment, and Torvald being the domineering master of the household. Their entire relationship is based on a false sense of reality created by their baby-like banter and the nievity in which they carry out the day to day actions of their lives. For example, Torvald calls Nora his little lark(Ibsen, 1668) and little squirrel(Ibsen, 1668). Although this simple name-calling may be considered romantic and loving, there is a hidden side to both characters that is concealed in these childish actions.
Helmer grows accustom to being the father figure to Nora and in essence begins to believe in its false meaning. Their relationship is need-based not only from a financial standpoint but from the need for future respect as well. The author states Nora is happy because she sees the future in wholly economic terms. (Hemmer, 1790) Nora has to keep her doll-like image to ensure her future and also to keep her secrets and true identity from being revealed. (Ibsen, 71) She believes that if her strong independent side is shown to her husband he will find out all the things she is hiding including her criminal relationship with Krogstad.
Torvald keeps his place in the acting dollhouse because he has hidden feelings like Noras that will ruin his good-guy reputation if out in the open. Their true relationship isnt one of lovey-dovey talk and romanticism but rather one of deceit and betrayal. Their lies are kept secret throughout the story by their perfectly executed acts of life, but in the end their real relationship breaks through and their true feelings surface. Noras importance to the story is also shown in her relationship with the character of Dr. Rank. Rank, the town doctor and family friend of the Helmers becomes one of the ey players in Noras dollhouse.
At the beginning of the play, Rank is in the Helmers house where has supposedly come to visit Torvald. Because Nora and Rank have been good friends for such a long time, nothing unusual is noticed between the two. As the play moves along we find out that Rank has secrets like the other characters of the story. He is in love with Nora. Nora relies on him for sympathy and understanding but cant accept the fact that he is in love with her. When he tells her his true feelings, she simply disregards them as foolish talk and goes about her business.
She soon comes to find out hat he is being sincere is his remarks and this provides Nora with another dilemma. This becomes a huge turning point in the story because her main ally, Dr. Rank, is now no longer simply a friend. Their relationship has moved into unchartered and forbidden areas. Because she can no longer be close to Rank without becoming a part of his dream, she has to begin realizing her independence as a person. Her relationship with Rank and the information provided in this relationship becomes the very beginning of Noras transformation into the true woman she is.
The main conflict in the story arises from Noras crime and her relationship with Krogstad. Noras forgery and fraud, whether justified or not, couldnt have been completed without the help of the infamous Krogstad. From the beginning of the story, Krogstad is given the reputation as a crook and overall bad person. Because he knows of his bad reputation and the way that Torvald feels about him, Krogstad uses Nora as a way out. Nora and Krogstad meet during the play in secrecy to discuss the happenings and plans of the future. Their concealed meetings help add deception and twists to the play.
As Krogstad changes in the story, hungry for a good name, he begins taking advantage of Nora. He blackmails Nora to get a position in the bank(Ibsen, 79) and comes close to confessing to their crime many times. Because of their intense relationship, they become almost dependent on each other. Krogstad needs Nora for a means of escape and Nora neeeds him to ensure her well being and social status. Each becomes so attached to each other that their relationship becomes so complex that it finally erupts in a fury of truth and The the plays most recognized enemies are Krogstad and Torvald.
Although never exchanging harsh words in the play, their animosity was distinctly shown in their ialogue and actions. Torvald is supposedly the pillar of the community. A hard-working, successful banker who has a beautiful family and a wonderful life. In contrast, Krogstad is the town con and the storys first antagonist. These two characters are at constant battle in the story although their relationship is not completely at the surface. Torvald is constantly destroying Krogstads position in the community by his demeaning remarks and Krogstad is an always present threat to Torvalds continueing success because of his control of Nora.
Both characters are hidden villians in the story even though they dont eem that way at certain times. (Ibsen, 78) Krogstad is filled with hidden frailties both repellent and pathetic(Ibsen, 78) while Torvalds weaknesses lie in his delicate reputation. Although different in their problems and internal suffrage, these two characters are alike in ways that can only be explained through the ending of the play. Not only does Krogstad become the good guy, Torvalds true self in shown. He becomes the storys villian while Krogstad begins a his new life as Torvald. Dr.
Rank and Torvalds friendship is one of the most deceitful relationships in the play. Because the play gives the reader the background that these two characters have been good friends for many years, one comes to believe that Rank and Torvald will be allies to each other in the story. As the plot unfolds and we begin to realize the extent of Ranks feelings of Nora, an entirely different conflict arises. Although Ranks feelings may be geniune towards Nora, the root of his betrayal is the extreme envy that Rank feels towards Torvald. He is jealous not only of Torvalds wife but of his life as a whole also.
Rank wants to be in perfect health and be the perfect symbol of a successful man but his llness and disregarded status in the community leave him without any hope. (Ibsen, 87) Torvald feels sorry for Rank because of his own experience with personal illness, but has no idea of the true jealously Rank has for him. He is simply nieve in his belief that Rank is just coming by to keep Nora company and talk to her. Rank is so caught up in being Torvald Helmer that he begins to try and be like him. His progressing illness is also a symbol of his unproductive pursuit of Torvalds livelihood(Ibsen, 87). Another important character in the play is Mrs.
Linde. An old friend of Nora and n need of income and a new direction in life, she comes to the Helmers house for comfort. She arrives in the hope that Torvald can set her up with some type of work. Mrs. Linde like Dr. Rank becomes one of the main characters in the story although not seeming to be that important in the beginning. (Ibsen, 74) Nora is obviously suprised at the arrival of her old friend but knows her situation and is happy to help. The two are immediately back to their old friendship and Nora tells Mrs. Linde her secret. At that moment in the play, Mrs. Linde becomes the only other scapegoat for Noras escape into freedom.
Although Mrs. Linde does have loving feelings for Nora, she like Rank is extremely envious of the Helmers prosperity. She sees Nora with her beautiful house and family and almost drouls at the idea that she could have been like that. As the play moves on and the plot thickens, Mrs. Linde adds a new twist by becoming involved in the life of Krogstad. Because of this, Nora becomes rather angry at Mrs. Lindes new found redemption into the land of success. Their relationship changes from a great friendship to a confusing mosiac of emotions and feelings of unknowing. Nora doesnt know whether Mrs. Linde is on her side or Krogstads.
Although the brief differences of opinion, when Nora finally leaves her shell and becomes a real woman, she understands Mrs. Lindes reasons in deciding to be with Krogstad. She and Mrs. Linde learn what is really their true A Dollhouse is one of the most well recognized plays ever written. Because of its diverse plot and ever changing twists and turns, it keeps the reader guessing as to what will happen in the end for the characters. Although many aspects of the plot enrich the play and give it a full affect, the characters and their relationships give the play its overall appeal and significance.
Each character has at least two different relationships with other characters in the play that help the reader identity the characters true personality and feelings toward events in the story. The main character, Nora, has conflicts with every character in the story including the ones that she seems to be the closest too. Ibsen uses this diversity in character traits to explain the theme and moral of the story. Also, these complex relationships give each characters reasons for reacting and analizing the main events of the story including Ranks confession of love and the letter being found in the mailbox.