A Doll’s House is a play that was published in 1879 by the famous Norwegian actor and playwright Henrik Ibsen. The play, written in prose was widely perceived to be a landmark in the foundation of realism as a prevalent genre of theatre. In this action, Ibsen has created a setting that raises different views from both male and female groups. However, a close analysis and evaluation would generally reveal realities about identity of the characters and the society. The writer places much emphasis on the oppressive expectations of marriage as it is observed in our societies through the interactions of two persons who appear to be in love. The play however poses much criticism in the traditional responsibilities of both men and women in the marriage set up of the 19th century and it was indeed this approach of portraying the idea of marriage in such a way that would see the writer in absolute disagreement with many people across Europe. All in all, Ibsen has succeeded in creating a theatre that explores family social issues in an entertaining manner where conflict remains a significant aspect out of this family drama.
A Doll’s House is set in the course of school days in a big room. It is in Christmas time for Mr. and Mrs. Helmer and New Year is just around the corner. This is evident in the opening chapter where we get to learn about the Christmas tree being dressed and the parcels of gifts, obviously Christmas gifts, being unfolded by Nora. The play is formed in various themes such as the unreliability of appearances, materialism, and parental / filial duties and responsibilities. However, the sacrificial role of women is the most common theme evident in the play. Ibsen has applied a rich mixture of literary devices to tell the story of how women are perceived in their responsibilities as housewives and mothers (Brunnemer, p. 45). Torvan, a strong representative of the male, uses his wife Nora to exemplify his social status throughout the play.
The sacrificial responsibilities held by the female category in the writer’s society are well manifested. For instance, women characters would appear to exemplify the assertions maintained by the protagonist, Nora throughout the story. Nora, even though economically stable compared to her fellow gender mates, she would forcefully exist under the woes of a difficult life owing to the society’s dictation that male are the dominant parties in marriage. This perception is well portrayed in an episode found in pg 183, where Torvald addresses Nora as though she fully belongs to him by saying, “My tiny song-bird should never repeat that again. It is highly expected of a song-bird to possess a smart beak to chirp with-and no false notes!” In this story, women are observed to make big sacrifices, even abandoning their children and families so as to discover and make use of their real self and identities in the society.
It is obviously true that, women characters in the story as observed in the plight of Nora and Mrs. Linden are trapped in a society where everything is defined by restrictive gender responsibilities (Grolnick, p. 279). In this regard, the women will have to part with a big price so as to become more than a doll through the inescapable way of self-fulfillment eventually taken by Nora that results to the death of marriage. It is interesting how the author of this play uses magnificent application of elements of literature to give the general meaning of his point of view especially through symbolism. The Christmas tree, for instance, represents Nora’s position as a pleasing icon before her husband while the New Year’s Day would represent a new hopeful beginning for the Helmers. However, the real meaning of these symbols would be justified at the end of the play when Nora walks out of her marital responsibilities to look for her real identity.
- Brunnemer, Keith. “A Doll’s House.” Human sexuality 9. 46 (2009): 45. Print.
- Grolnick, Lawrence. “Ibsen’s truth, family secrets, and family therapy.” Family process 22. 3 (1993): 275-288. Print.