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A Doll's House - Nora Helmer

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A Doll's House

Often in literature characters are presented as victims of society. There are many examples of this in Henrik Ibsen’s controversial play, “A Doll’s House”. Written during the Victorian era, Ibsen’s play would have raised a lot controversy on the roles of males and females in society. The audience would have noticed the constant similarities between themselves and the characters that are presented as victims of society. A lot of the audience would have found the play shocking and disturbing.

In the beginning of “A Doll’s House” as an audience we see Nora as a victim, a doll who is controlled by Torvald. She relies on him for everything, from movements to thoughts, much like a puppet that is dependent on its puppet master for all its actions. At this stage of the play Nora enjoys playing the role of Torvald’s wife. Like Torvald, Nora finds it content to be comfortable in society and plays along with what society expects of her. The Christmas presents she buys for the children are clear evidence that she follows the stereotypical views of society. “A trumpet for Bob. And a doll and a cradle for Emmy.’ (Act1, pg25)

The conversations with Ms Linde reveal that there is more to Nora than what meet Torvald’s and society’s eyes. In the conversations with Ms Linde, we are introduced to Nora’s hidden independence and illegal actions. Nora uses the image of being a victim of society to cover up her secret business. An example of this is when Nora buys macaroons and lies to Torvald about having bought them. “Not a little nibble at a macaroon?” Nora: “No, Torvald- I promise you honestly-!” (Act 1, pg27)

Nora rebels against society’s morals and laws that “a wife can’t borrow money without the husband consent.” (Act 1, pg35) Although she realises is illegal and wrong, she finds it “great fun, though, sitting there working and earning money. Almost like being a man.” (Act 1)

As the play progresses we see Nora realise that she has been feed disillusions that it her duty to be the ornament and prize to her husband, the role which society has given to her. When Torvald finds out about her illegal activities, to save his life, she prepares to leave town, knowing that Torvald would not want anything to do with her once he finds out that she will disgrace his name. The point in the play where Nora takes off her fancy dress, symbolises that she is no longer the same person. “Taking off my fancy dress…I’ve changed.” (Act3, pg96). She has finally given up playing her expected role in order to please society. Instead Nora plans to please herself, by trying to find her true self and identity. Nora has been pushed around by men her whole life and now just wants to leave society’s vicious circle and find her true identity. “I took your taste in everything- or pretended I did…I’ve been living here like a pauper…I performed tricks for you… You and Papa have done me great wrong. It’s your fault that I have done nothing with my life.” (Act3, pg98)

Ms Linde was once a victim of society. She was forced by society’s expectations to marry the man who she did not love, but had enough money to support her sick mother and her two brothers. Now that Ms Linde is a widow she represents

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