In A Doll's House, is Nora a victims of circumstances or a villian who brings about problems? What is lbsen's view? 

1 Answer | Add Yours

durbanville's profile pic

durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Henrik Ibsen was keen to expose social constraints such as they affected men and women of the time and his play A Doll's House, caused far more controversy than he expected. Rather than revealing that men and women are equally stereotyped and limited by their expected roles in society, A Doll's House received criticism for Nora's decision to leave her children. It was not feasible for a woman, no matter how demeaned and belittled, to effectively abandon her children. It is often seen as a feminist play but Torvald is equally as much restricted by his paternalistic, dominant role as Nora is by her subservient one.

Nora is most certainly a victim of circumstances, feeling that she has to forge her father's signature on a document to secure a loan that will save her husband's life. To Nora, it is a small price to pay to save a life. The fact that the restrictions placed on women, at the time, were unjust is what mitigates Nora's decision - "a woman has no right to spare her dying father, or to save her husband's life ! I don't believe that."

It is also the reason why she cannot understand Torvald's reaction to her apparent sacrifice or, to his way of thinking, believing "my dearest Nora, what have you to do with serious things?"

Torvald is still focused on the effect it will have on him and the embarrassment Nora is apparently bringing on the household - "consider what the world will say" is his motivation for trying to make her stay. Nora has finally realised that she has spent too much time in the pursuit of the happiness of others - especially Torvald's - and in keeping up appearances. She used to think this was worth it because Torvald loved her but now she knows he loves his reputation far more than his wife as "no man sacrifices his honour, even for one he loves."  

The "miracle" that Nora has waited for - the real proof of Torvald's love and appreciation for her sacrifice - is not going to happen and Torvald has not given any thought to the burden his "little squirrel" has borne all these years, only that "I almost think you are out of your senses."

Nora does not believe she is worthy of her children and after all the years of being made to believe that the children are victims of the parents' vices - such as Dr Rank - she is not leaving them from  simply her own selfish needs but because she truly thinks that she may compromise them in some way and ruin their future.This makes Nora the ultimate victim.  

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,916 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question