Moreover, a very intriguing ironic parallel can be drawn between Nora and Torvald, when Torvald finds out about Nora’s forgery, he exclaims “Now you’ve wrecked all my happiness—ruined my whole future. Oh, it’s awful to think of. I’m in a cheap little grafter’s hands; he can do anything he wants with me, ask for anything, play with me like a puppet—and I can’t breathe a word. I’ll be swept down miserably into the depths on account of a featherbrained woman” (1292), which is a complete rolereversal of the literal control Torvald has over Nora, because all of those years she was his ‘puppet.
A supplementary illustration of dramatic irony is when Torvald says that he will willingly sacrifice his happiness and dignity if some danger were to threaten his wife. However, when such a thing happens in the next moment, he turns out to be a complete coward and an utterly egoistic person who will not sacrifice anything at all, in the name of a mere wife. The two dialogues from his own mouth will show the irony; one is his fanciful promise and the other is his response to the ensuing situation.
Torvald’s promise “Whatever comes, you’ll see; when it really counts, I have strength and courage enough as a man to take on the whole weight myself” (Ibsen 1274) and then his response in reality “The thing has to be hushed up at any cost. And as for you and me, it’s got to seem like everything between us is just as it was—to the outside world, that is. You’ll go right on living in this house, of course. But you can’t be allowed to bring up the children; 1 don’t dare trust them with you” (Ibsen 1292-1293).
Comparatively, at the time of rehearsal of the tarantella, Torvald exclaims “But Nora darling, you dance as if your life were at stake”, Nora responds ironically “And it is” (Ibsen 1283), though Helmer does not understand what she means. Nora counts the remaining hours of her life after the rehearsal because she thinks she is going to sacrifice herself, before her husband would sacrifice himself for her. Both sacrifices never occur and the theme of the play is a twisted irony to the separation and uncertainty of life.
Torvald’s “helpless little thing”, Nora, ironically becomes stronger, confident, independent and serious in life. Torvald’s so imagined possession, his little doll, his beautiful treasure becomes ironically a complete stranger to him. As a result, the entire marriage is a deception, merely a game that both husband and wife are playing. Nora’s epiphany occurs when the truth is finally revealed. As Torvald unleashes his revulsion against Nora and her crime of forgery, the protagonist realizes that her husband is not who she thought he was at all. Torvald has no intention of taking the blame for Nora’s crime.
She thought for certain that he would selflessly give up everything for her, like she given up so much for him. When he fails to do this, she accepts the fact that their marriage has been an illusion. In this moment Nora’s eyes and mind finally become clear of any delusions she once possessed. Nora was dominated and controlled by her father before marriage and afterwards it was her husband dominating her. Torvald never treated her as an equal. She had existed for her husband and she had always expected that her husband would come to her aid when she was in trouble.
She had been waiting for miracles to happen. Nora feared that Krogstad would expose everything and that their family would come undone. Contrary to her expectation, Torvald behaved like a hypocrite concerned more with societies idea of morality and a notion of social prestige, not with his wife’s welfare and care. He came out in his true colors. Nora realized that her husband didn’t see her as an individual. She wanted to dissolve her ties with him by abandoning him and the children. She thought her duty toward herself was above her duty as a mother and wife. Her status was someone who was a on-entity.
She wanted to educate herself and establish her own identity. Slamming the door is the explosion of her energies against societal standards. It’s a bold act of revolt against domination. The crux of the whole play hinges on this single incident. It is an individual’s search for freedom. It signifies that a person who realizes the necessity to cultivate their full identity must be ready to sacrifice even an atom of care and concern for their family. As Sahin and Rizwan-ul explain “Nora chooses to be free from pretensions and deceit, from control and manipulation, from loss of identity and oblivion.
In fact, she is self-searching the choice to individual, choice to make oneself free as man is free, man is freedom” (293). Ibsen himself described his views toward individual freedom: I am not even quite clear as to just what this Women’s Rights Movement really is. To me, it has seemed a problem of mankind in general. And, if you read my books carefully, you will understand this. True enough, it is desirable to solve the woman problem, along with all the others; but that has not been the whole purpose. My task has been the description of humanity (Johnston 437).