The Disguise of Reality through Appearances in Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s Hosue” Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 19 August 2016

The Disguise of Reality through Appearances in Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s Hosue”

Henrik Ibsen’s play, “A Doll’s House,” is a story of realization. It follows a series of events in the Helmer household. Various themes are explored in the story. One of the central themes that is highlighted in the story is how appearances disguise reality. The characters and events in the play all hide the reality beneath appearances. The story deals with the idea that appearances alone do not define who a person really is. Appearances and reality are not always the same. Sometimes, appearances and reality refer to opposite things. This was clearly evident in the story.

The title of the play fits the theme. Since all the characters in the play seem to be like dolls. Their actions are dictated by what those around them tell them to do. Dolls are dressed and played with. Their actions are controlled by their owners. This is the same for the characters in the story. Each of them is driven not by the reality of events but of their desire to project another persona to hide who they really are. Each of the characters disguised reality by their appearances and actions. Some of them attempted to accept their current lives as the reality.

Later on, they realized that their lives did not define who they really were. However, every one of the characters in the story were revealed to be someone very different from what they first appeared to be. The appearances of the characters fool readers as well as the other characters. For instance, Nora first appeared to be silly, self-centered, and shallow. She seemed to be the typical wife who worries about things that have no great significance. She seemed to be someone who considered money and material things as the most valuable things in her life.

It is in the First Act of play where Nora appears to be the materialistic and shallow wife that she is. In the first act, Nora says, “Yes, Torvald, we may be a wee bit more reckless now, mayn’t we? Just a tiny wee bit! You are going to have a big salary and earn lots and lots of money. ” It is evident form this line that money matters very much to Nora. However, as the play progresses, Nora’s personality and mindset seem to change. She seems to discover her real self as the play moves closer to the end.

Readers get to see that Nora slowly appears to be intelligent and motivated, in contrast to how she first appears in the story. By the end of the story, Nora is shown to have realized who she really is. She is shown to be an independent thinker. Leaving her husband to discover more about herself is clear indication that she is simply not who she first appeared to be. From the materialist woman who was totally dependent on her husband, Nora emerged to be a strong-willed woman who wants to live a life that she herself controls. Torvald first appears to be the ideal husband.

At the start of the play, Torvald seems to be the strong, hardworking, and loving husband. Most women would want a husband like him. He fulfills his fatherly duties by providing the needs of the family. He loves his wife and seems to be very sweet to him. However, as the story progresses, it becomes clear that what Torvald appears to be is not who he really is. Towards the end of the play, Torvald is shown to be a man whose main concern is the preservation of his reputation. His fear that Krogstad would expose the scandal is not rooted in his fear of what will happen to his wife.

Instead, he fears the thought of what the scandal will do to his reputation. At the end of the play, Torvald is nothing close to what he first appeared to be. He is revealed to be a coward and a selfish man. Krogstad is another character whose appearance does not do justice to who he really is. The first parts of the play characterize Krogstad as the enemy. He seems to be the villain who has nothing more on his mind but revenge. However, this appearance shadows Krogstad’s real character. He is not the vengeful person that he first appears to be.

He is sympathetic and merciful. The climax of the play is the resolution of the identity confusion that the characters experience. Nora is revealed to be intelligent and brave. Torvals is shown to be a selfish coward and a sad man while Krogstad is shown to be an earnest and devoted lover. The difference in the appearances and the realities that exist in the Helmer household stems from a singular point. The difference can be traced back to Helmer’s desire to live a life based on a certain image that he has created.

His desire to live this life leaves no room for the other characters to explore their own identities. Furthermore, Torvald’s devotion to this image hinders the creation of genuine happiness within his marriage and within his household. It is Torvald’s control over his home’s appearance that suppresses the reality in his house. As the end of the play reveals, this control over appearances and suppression of reality has led to the breakdown of his marriage and ultimately, of the image of a household that he had created.

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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 19 August 2016

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