Throughout A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen explores the uncertainty of finding and retaining happiness, especially in the institution of marriage. The main focus of this exploration is the character of Nora, who comes to realize that what she thought was happiness was a flimsy imitation, so she cannot hold on to it. Both she and Torvald believed—for very different reasons—that they had a happy marriage. In the end, Nora sees that she must seek happiness on her own, even at the risk of not finding it. Kristine Lind’s ideas about happiness help Nora reach that decision.
In the early part of the play, the Helmers can be perceived as happy. They are shown as affectionate, even though Torvald is condescending toward his wife. Nora had believed so strongly in their loving, happy marriage that she rationalized committing a crime and then telling multiple lies to cover it up. Although she does not confront the possibility that Torvald’s love is not equally strong, she suspects that he would not forgive her.
In the end, he proves that he cares about appearances more than about her. Both must face the fact that they were not actually happy: they cannot hold on to what they never had. Admitting that their marriage has no future, Nora takes the plunge to try to find out who she is.
The character of Kristine Lind also demonstrates the importance of happiness. She had originally married for the sake of security. After her husband dies, she decides that trying to find happiness is worth the risk of failure.