A Doll’s House is a play by Henrik Ibsen. It revolves around issues of marriage and family. It talks about Norah Helmer who is a middle-class and is married to Torvalds. She took an illegal bank loan to save the life of her husband Torvalds. Her husband is not aware of whether she has any pending bank loans to be paid. This paper will look at a summary of the drama, setting of the play, irony, main characters, historical context and symbolism in the play.
The play starts with Norah Helmer entering the house carrying packages for the family because the following day is Christmas. Norah lives a lavish lifestyle and her husband is not happy because she overspends money on minor things. She gets a loan from Krogstad by faking his father’s signature. His husband, Torvalds is not aware of the loan. She uses the loan to take his husband to Italy for medical purposes, and she doesn’t tell him the source of his money (Yeasmin & Fahmeda p.335). Torvalds thinks that her wife took the money from her father. Later on, Norah struggles a lot in trying to repay the loan. Torvalds is promoted to the position of a bank manager. Her wife is happier because she hopes that her husband will help her in repaying the loan. Nora’s friend whom they studied together visits them in town where she is looking for a job opportunity.
Krogstad learns that he may be replaced in his job position by miss Linde, Nora’s friend and therefore he approaches Nora to help him convince the husband not to replace him. Failure to retain his position, Krogstad says that he will reveal Nora’s secret to her husband. Later on, Torvalds sends a termination letter to Krogstad amid several attempts from her wife trying to convince him not to fire Krogstad. Doctor rank confesses his love for Nora because he is about to die. Krogstad changes his mind and tells Nora that he will not expose him to the public because she has not completed paying a loan but rather, he would send a letter to her husband telling him about the loan. Krogstad and miss Linde, later on, reunite since they were lovers initially, and she promises to take care of him and his children. Norah uses all means to make sure that his husband does not read the letters which where send to him (Yeasmin & Fahmeda p.335).
Torvalds expresses his love for her wife and therefore Nora is happy and withdraws her thoughts to commit suicide. Torvalds finally reads the letter, and he accuses his wife of playing part in ruining his life. He plans to forsake her but eventually comes in carrying another letter that comes from Krogstad and it is addressed to Nora. Torvalds reads it loudly; Krogstad wants the two families to get united once more. Torvalds is happy with the decision and forgives his wife for all the mistakes she had committed. Nora is not happy, and she tells his husband that she wants to live. She confesses to him that she does not love him anymore. She wants to move out and enjoy her own life where she will not be restricted to do anything. As the play ends, she tells her husband that a one-day miracle will happen, and they will reunite again in new wedlock.The setting of the play Takes place inside Torvalds and Nora’s house.
The writer wants to show us the reality of Nora who is not conversant in what happens in the world outside her house. She is only concerned about her home and family. The laws which govern the world don’t bother her because the only important thing to her is family. The audience gets to know what happened through a dialogue between Nora and the other characters (Askarzadeh et.al p.101). She is the center of what is going on in the play. The setting for the play remains the same from the start of the play until the end.Symbolism It is widely used in the play. They pass along hidden meaning and helps us understand better. Some scenarios where it is evident include the following; a Christmas tree image in the doll’s house is used to symbolize that there is life in the house. It also shows that the family is happy, harmonious, and they are enjoying life. The tree also symbolizes the spiritual life and strength they enjoy.
As the play progresses, the Christmas tree is destroyed and stripped symbolizing how Nora’s life has changed and the challenges she is undergoing. Symbolism is also witnessed through stoves, candles, and fire. They show the warmth and comfort in Nora’s house. Norah tarantella dance which she performs in a passionate mood is symbolic. It shows her love for life and also, she won’t mind if she dies. She tells Helmer that she does it so that she can entertain him and build strong love with him. The dance was initially performed in Italy by a person who was bitten by a dangerous spider (Christian &Mary p.82). It is also symbolic that she is dancing to show the challenges she is undergoing e.g. repaying loans. At the end of the play, Nora shuts the door as she goes out. It symbolizes the problems she had undergone as she lived with his husband. She goes out to face the real world.Irony In the play, irony is witnessed in several parts of the play.
The play rotates around a happy and comfortable marriage life. In return, we learn that the family was just hypocritical and hollow full of challenges which they don’t expose to the public. From everything that Helmers, says about how stable and happy his family is ironical. Torvalds says that Krogstad is corrupt and that his family should not be associated with him. However, the audience is aware that his wife, Nora forges signature so that she can be able to get access to loans. At the beginning of the play, Nora pretends to be happy when his husband is promoted in his job, and therefore their future will be good, and they will live a happy life. It is a show of anxiety to hide the fact that they are broke, and they are unable to pay their debts. Nora is a poor woman, but she does not want to accept that reality (Askarzadeh et.al p.101). She wants to live a luxurious life.
The lifestyle they live is ironic. It is also ironic that the majority of problems Nora is facing started when his husband was promoted in the job. In conclusion, the play makes us understand a lot of challenges and problems which many families undergo, but they decide to hide them from the public. It is a good play which reflects what is happening in the society we are living. Through the use of irony, symbolism, imagery, sarcasm we can learn a lot of things which the play is trying to teach us.
- Askarzadeh Targhee, Rajabali. “Stylistic Analysis of Characters in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House: Masculinity and Supremacy vs. Femininity and Helplessness.” Research in Applied Linguistics 10.2 (2019): 91-105.
- Christian, Mary. “A Doll’s House Conquered Europe”: Ibsen, His English Parodists, and the Debate over World Drama.” Humanities 8.2 (2019): 82.Yeasmin, Fahmeda. “
- ‘ A Doll’s House’ is the Backlash of Feminism.” International Journal of English Literature and Social Sciences 3.3 (2018): 334-338.