Nora Helmer, the "doll" wife, realizes after eight years of marriage that she has never been a partner in her marriage. At the play's conclusion, she leaves her husband in order to establish an identity for herself that is separate from her identity as a wife and mother.
Appearances and Reality
On the surface, Nora Helmer appears to be the ideal wife her husband desires. Torvald sees a woman who is under his control; he defines her every behavior and establishes rules that govern everything from what she eats to what she buys. The reality is that Nora has been maintaining a secret life for seven years and that Torvald and Nora maintain a marriage that is a fiction of suitability and trust. Torvald has a public persona to maintain, and he views his marriage as an element of that public need. When the fiction is stripped away at the play's conclusion, both partners must confront the reality of their marriage.
Betrayal becomes a theme of this play in several ways. Nora has betrayed her husband's trust in several instances. She has lied about borrowing money, and to repay the money, she must lie about how she spends her household accounts and about taking odd jobs to earn extra money. But she also chooses to lie about eating sweets her husband has forbidden her. However, Nora trusts in Torvald to be loyal to her, and in the end, he betrays that trust when he rejects her pleas for...
(The entire section is 1080 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of A Doll's House Themes. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!