On Henrik Ibsen’s Nora in a “Doll’s House”
Henrik Ibsen displays the effect of society’s standard on an ideal family through the interesting characters in his play. Its story lingers on the loveless marriage of Nora and Torvald, and the lives of the supporting characters of the play as they portray society’s take on sexual prejudice and the role it plays on the family unit. Moreover, the story brings out a message that people are not always what they seem on the outside and on first encounters.
In the Laws of Morality as presented by Ibsen, individuals had different dilemmas such that a character was developed and recognized in accordance to how he/she deals with it. An individual’s character is not inherited and thus, developed by personal endeavors or one’s own exertion. In today’s community, morality is typically focused on institutions rather than individuals; however the two are inextricably linked. Respect for an individual’s freedom and identity is necessary to sustain mental saneness which is more likely to protect individual freedoms.
One such significant character in the play is the protagonist, Nora. Initially, she is introduced in the play as a somewhat childish and submissive wife of the Helmer household. Nora’s husband who constantly refers to her as his “little squirrel” (Ibsen) or “skylark” (Ibsen) is constantly implying and enforcing his views of a proper wife on her. This in turn makes the audience think that Nora is a highly dependent wife who relies on her husband’s approval.
As the play progresses, Nora displays a rather courageous feat that she has hidden from her family. She had in the past associated with Krogstad on committing fraud to find finances needed in the rehabilitation of her husband’s poor health. To pay for the debts, she works secretly to ensure this. Nora is thrown into a traumatic chaos when Krogstad threatens to reveal their crime in exchange for a favor. She is further set off balance when her husband’s reaction turns out to be the complete opposite of what she hoped for.
This circumstance makes her realize the disillusions she had of her marriage and that she has yet to find her true self as an independent being. Having lived an overly protected life under the care of her father and then her husband, she comes to understand that she is living not the life that she wants but of what they have imposed on her. The play ends with Nora leaving her family to embark on a mission to rediscover what she has truly wanted for herself all along. Psychological Effect Due to Unacceptance
Nora is first seen as a person who is happy and contented to be the loyal wife and doting mother. While trying to meet the demands of what the society and her husband refers to a proper wife, she deliberately tries to rebel in small ways by lying to her husband about small matters such as eating sweets. Lying on such small things is seen to be psychologically disturbing for Nora, since all things she does seemed to be disapproved by her husband. She later realizes that she was never fully happy and contented living the life that others have arranged for her.
Her personal foundation is being individually attached to the community having different cultures, beliefs and fashion preferences compared to hers such that, most of her decisions, likes and dislikes were greatly affected and influenced by the opinions and preferences of the community evolving around her. During the span of her marriage life, she wasn’t allowed and therefore feared to practice her true individual character. Though freedom is something an individual enjoys and is the absence of oppression, it should be practiced that where there is freedom, there is responsibility.
This put her in a state of initially accepting her state of living, thus, accomplishing what the community around her believes as a rightful wife to Torvald. However, she discovers that she has been living a lie, hiding the other side of her true personality to the people who were supposed to be her family. Her husband, who she trusted to respond in her honor broke her trust and was more worried on how other people would see the family if they were to know of the crime that she has committed.
Freedom is described as rights to personal security, personal expression, and political participation and it is in this respect, that Nora’s freedom of expression of was limited. The Doll in Distress Finding out that she has lost an important part of herself in an empty marriage is a distressing trauma that a lot of people like her deal with. She feels like she has lived an almost empty life as Torvald’s doll and that all her efforts for her husband to appreciate and understand her have proved to be useless. She had lived a life of a doll, where she does what she was told inside the doll house.
The shelter that she once considered her home is such a doll house where there are to emotions living and even lingering inside her doll family. Given the traumatic experiences that she has experienced, there is a possibility that she will encounter depression. Moreover, these bouts of depression can lead to possible mental disorders like Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. We have take note that when she decided to leave her husband, she surmised that their children were better off with their father and not with her.
This already tells us that she has also lost her confidence as a good mother to her children. Due to her depressing state, she had taken of towards her freedom, leaving of the great responsibility of being a mother behind her. Such confidence of being a good mother was destroyed due to her situation, carrying her battered morale and vanishing self esteem with her. Leaving the Doll House As Nora breaks out and breaks free from the emotionless house, there is sense of strong will to be, putting a great effort of almost forgetting the family and life she had been attached to for years.
In Ibsen’s plot, she placed Nora of having acquired a sense of free willingness by letting go a huge part of her life. In the last part of the play, Nora developed the free willingness to make a big step towards recognizing an emotion that is happening to her and being aware of its effect around her. Tuning in and being aware to her every emotion or feelings makes her manage them enabling her to be confident in her worth and capabilities. Being aware of her self makes her confidently use her abilities. Being aware of ones self and emotions makes her a free willed person.
Henrick Ibsen finally ended the play with a display of triumph on Nora’s side, being able to show her true individuality despite of Torvald’s disapproval and concern of the reaction of the community around them, which is in great contrast of the true story where the husband had demanded for a divorce and Nora, who was mentally and emotionally agitated, had a nervous breakdown and confined in a mental institution. Conclusion For sheltered people like Nora, breaking out of their safe zone and embarking on a new environment is a terrifying endeavor.
They are more vulnerable to fallbacks because being independent is something that they will have to learn for themselves for the first time on their own. Coping up with stress is harder when a person is unaided. Although she has displayed a great deal of courage by clearly defying the wishes of her husband and leaving altogether the household it is therefore inevitable an emotional pit. It is therefore important that although she has decided to leave the household to be independent, she should be in a place where close acquaintances are available for her emotional support system.
In these day and age, support systems in the mental health department are already accessible. Compared to the olden days, it is no longer a taboo issue when one seeks a psychiatrist’s help to clear one’s mindset and consult professionals on how to healthily cope up with stress. People who had experiences like Nora then should not hesitate to consult these services if ever they feel that they need it. More importantly, it is essential that they surround themselves with people who know their plight and not isolate themselves.
Individuals are important members of a community for a single community is a composition of different individuals. Being individuals of one community, we are now evolving in a community with different likes, dislikes, culture and tradition. The Helmer’s personal foundation is being individually attached to the community of the same cultures, beliefs and fashion preferences, thus, most of their decisions, likes and dislikes, their way of living were affected by the opinions and preferences of the community evolving around them.
So even if an individual is a part of a community, there is a big difference between an individual and a member of a community. In a lonely Doll World, it is therefore important by having an awareness of using our abilities to bring optimum results by understanding others as an individual and try out for better ways rather than stereotyping. Works Cited Ibsen, Henrik. The Project Gutenberg eBook, A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen, Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius. 29 March 2005. The Project Gutenberg. 14 April 2007 <http://www. gutenberg. org/files/15492/15492-h/15492-h. htm>