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If one were to write a monologue for Torvald after Nora has left him at the end of...

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thelyphron | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted November 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM via web

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If one were to write a monologue for Torvald after Nora has left him at the end of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and include comments expressing his struggles to acknowledge that his marriage was far from perfect, comments selfishly referring to eight years of looking after Nora, and perhaps admitting that the trip was vital for his health, would one also include him stating comments about his reputation? Does he still care about his social standing once Nora has left?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 25, 2013 at 2:11 AM (Answer #1)

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It appears that Torvald's ending conversation with Nora has certainly shaken him up quite a bit and given him many self-revelations. He could no longer care about his reputation once she declared she was leaving because even her mere leaving would diminish his reputation. What's more, her argument that he has shown himself to be self-serving has made him see himself in a new light.

One piece of evidence we have of his revelation and his cessation to value his reputation above all other things is that once he declares that he would do anything for her except "sacrifice his honour for the one he loves," Nora shakes him up by pointing out that Torvald's reaction had not been based on "fear for what threatened [Nora], but for what might happen to [himself]." It is after she makes this argument that he proclaims, "I have it in me to become a different man," showing us his eyes have now been opened. What she has said has stirred him into realizing just how self-serving he has truly been. Hence, he is beginning to learn that his reputation is not of primary importance. What's more, he would realize that caring about his reputation at this point is futile because his wife is determined to leave him.  

Therefore, you would be perfectly right to leave out Torvald complaining about Nora's lack of respect for his reputation in your monologue. You would also be perfectly right to have him think back on his marriage and be less willing to see the problems in his marriage than Nora is; plus, having him see the importance of Nora's sacrifice for his health will also be very important. But don't forget that it is apparent he has a moment of change at the end of the play. In Torvald's final lines, Ibsen added the stage direction, "A hope flashes across his mind", followed by his last line, "The most wonderful thing of all--?," referring to the miracle Nora proposes in which both of them become so changed that they now have a real marriage, meaning that they mutually respect and care for each other. These lines coupled with Torvald's earlier declaration that he believes he can change shows us Torvald has realized his faults and is hopeful about both his abilities to change and re-establish his marriage, but the re-establishment of his marriage is unlikely to happen.

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