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In A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, what are the major conflicts and themes?

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viri | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 6, 2008 at 5:10 AM via web

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In A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, what are the major conflicts and themes?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 6, 2008 at 3:39 PM (Answer #1)

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A major theme in the play is the search for identity, especially as it concerns women in nineteenth-century Europe.  This theme underlies the basis of conflict for Nora Helmer, who has always lived as a "doll" in the house of her self-centered husband, Torvald.  Torvald controls Nora's life to the point that he monitors what and how much she eats, refers to her with demeaning pet names such as "my little spendthrift", and pats her on the head like a puppy.

Another important theme is deception.  Nora lies to her husband about silly things such as sneaking a few forbidden macaroons for herself, but she also harbors a significant secret which, if revealed, could lead to severe consequences.  Nora forged a signature to borrow a large sum of money previously, and is struggling to pay it back without Torvald's knowledge, even though the money was ironically borrowed to save his life.

The conflicts which ultimately destroy Nora's and Torvald's marriage stem from pride, unrequited love, and betrayal. Nora lies to her husband and betrays his trust in part because she loves him and wants to please him.  Torvald cannot accept his wife's sacrifice in securing the loan that saved his life because, in desperation, she got the money illegally, and if the fact became known, it would be a blow to his pride.  When Torvald will not defend his wife, it is the final betrayal of her love, and their marriage does not survive.

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ruqiya | Student , Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 21, 2011 at 1:40 AM (Answer #2)

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hi ,,

I also wents to add this

Appearance and reality

In A Doll's House, very little is as it first seems. Nora at first appears to be a silly, selfish girl, but then we learn that she has made great sacrifices to save her husband's life and pay back her secret loan. By the end of the play, she has realized her true strength and strikes out as an independent woman. Torvald, for all his faults, appears to be a loving, devoted and generous husband. But it later transpires that he is a shallow, vain man, concerned mainly with his public reputation, and too weak to deliver on his promise to shoulder any burden that would fall upon Nora. The Helmer marriage appears loving, but turns out to be based on lies, play-acting and an unequal relationship.

Krogstad appears to be a bitter, vengeful extortionist until he is reunited with his true love, Mrs Linde, when he becomes more merciful and generous. Mrs Linde first strikes us as self-sufficient, but we learn that she feels "empty" now that she has no one to look after. Dr Rank acts the role of friend to Torvald and Nora, but we later discover the true motive for his daily visits: he is in love with Nora.

I understand it just like this hope it is good

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irun123 | Student , Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 9, 2012 at 1:12 AM (Answer #3)

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Don't judge a book by its cover!

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