Reading the Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen makes you want to discern what entirely wives can afford to sacrifice for their families just to be good mothers and perfect wives for their husbands. This is the story of a woman who have succumbed to life’s realities which tell us that sometimes being a mother and a wife does not always make a woman complete but may even rob her of her rights as a real person. The first part of the story showed us that despite the lack of affluence, Nora has always been a happy mother and a contented wife for her husband.
Such sweet and compassionate her life with her family that we, as readers are lured to think that this is the kind of story that you would never expect it would end up in an uncompromising conclusion and leave us wondering how things have suddenly turned against general expectations. Nora grew up with the luxury of life provided by her father. She is a beautiful and attractive woman but the day she marries and had children she disregard her affinity with the vanities of life as she was deprived of the things she used to have. When her husband quit his job, Nora worked really hard even discreetly to earn money.
She buys cheap clothes to dress herself up decently and from her small savings she would buy small gifts for her three children to make her feel she is giving justice for herself and for the people she love. In doing this, Torvald always compare her to her father who knows nothing but spend his money on useless things. Although Nora loved her father so dearly she never dared to go against Torvald’s words when he speaks of her father. The most gracious thing that Nora did in her life was to love her father and her husband dearly although each opposes each other.
When Torvald got sick he was forced to go to Italy to seek the proper medical attention with his family. Although Nora’s father was also critically ill she went by to help her husband get through with it. In Italy, life was even harder and Torvald need a large sum of money to go on with his hospitalization. Nora was helpless for they are also desolate. Nowhere to go and tremendously need to save her husband’s life she discreetly borrowed money from Nils Krogstad, a notorious bank employee who is infamous in sealing under the table agreements.
Nora agreed to Krogstad’s plan of using her father’s bond and borrowed money from the bank while Nora pay it in installment to Krogstad. Nora’s father is already critically ill so she has to forge his signature or else there will be no money for her husband’s treatment. Apparently all became too complex when Torvald was about to take charge of the bank where Krogstad work and basically Torvald instantly wants to get rid of Krogstad because of his notorious reputation. When Krogstad learned of his impending fate, he talked to Nora to influence her husband so he can remain at the bank.
Nora realized the outcome of the scandal in dealing with Krogstad and so tried to persuade her husband but Torvald is really bent on taking out Krogstad and replace him with Christine, Nora’s friend. Krogstad continued to blackmail her and threaten of exposing her to her husband but Nora was helpless. Finally all the anomalies behind Nora’s dealing were revealed by Krogstad through a letter to Torvald. When Torvald discovered of the irregularity that Nora got into, he became so furious he purged her with insulting words telling her as a worthless wife and a useless mother to her children.
He threw accusations of his father’s ill habits and again compared him to her. Consequently, he never dared to ask the reason for the forgery. As she was maligned and degraded by her husband, everything snapped in front of her. Suddenly realizing all the guilt and pain she had endured, she suddenly opted for freedom (Ibsen, 2002). Perhaps this is where we can critically analyze how the characters have successfully or failed to play their part to end the story with a happy ending or otherwise end the event in failure.
Probably most of us will have mixed inclination on believing Nora’s actions were of righteous deeds or perhaps the other way around. But however we see it, her forfeiture of his father’s signature signifies her love of Torvald because without doing it, she will surely lose her husband. On the other hand, we see a little shortcoming here with her actions. When Krogstad threatened to blackmail her she should have told this to her husband to prevent danger in their relationship as well as of his career. Instead she let things happened and then decided to end her life when Torvald knew all about it.
Although this makes us readers to feel upset for Nora’s failures, the pointlessness of her weakness put more pain to her than gain. On the other hand, Nora can still be considered a noble person because the sacrifice she did to save her husband’s life was most dignified. We must face the fact that she only happened to love dearly a husband that she can afford to do such crime. Nora as we see here is the victim in this story not only because Krogstad used her but her feelings as a person was extremely disregarded.
In the end she accused Torvald of loving her not as a person but like a ‘doll’ without feelings much like what her father do before. She said that all the while she loved them they did not love her back and never treated her as a person. Nora embodies women who can sacrifice for their families. Unfortunately she can only take too much. She got lost along the way and immersed herself with so much self pity and when she decided to go away she forgot about her children.
This is the part which confuses us because leaving her children is somewhat uncalled for even though she would be searching for her freedom. Also, however it may seem, committing suicide as she previously planned is not the right answer to run away from all her anxieties. As with the plot of the story, it is filled with treachery, lies, drama, friendship, adultery and perception of ignorance and ill commitment. An example of treachery here is when Dr. Frank, a great friend of Torvald expresses his desire to Nora and wants to commit an adulterous relationship with her.
On the other hand, Catherine, the best friend of Nora also betrayed Nora in a sense that she did not tell Nora that she and Krogstad were previously involved or it would have lightened the situation in the first place. Noticeably, there seemed to be predictability with the plot as well. The characters already knew each other long but did not meet altogether until all were in one event to highlight the drama. This is the usual concept that is generally used among stories when emphasizing the twist of events to highlight the heavy scenes with strong emotions.
Nevertheless, the climax of the story make us think that though some of us realized that Nora’s decision to leave Helmer Torvald and her children does not seemed to be logical and heartless for a mother, we maybe able to understand that she is the victim of disrespect, a woman who did everything but was deprived of love and affection. However, this is good book to read for it is full of compassion and delight that normally happens with people in our society. Reference: Ibsen, H. (2002). A Doll’s House: Plain Label Books