One of the key issues inA Doll's House is the tendency of men, particularly in this historical context, to dismiss the ideas and the value which women hold in their societies.
From the beginning, it is clear that Torvald considers Nora a plaything of his own. He finds his...
One of the key issues in A Doll's House is the tendency of men, particularly in this historical context, to dismiss the ideas and the value which women hold in their societies.
From the beginning, it is clear that Torvald considers Nora a plaything of his own. He finds his wife silly and amusing and never considers that Nora might have unique and independent dreams. Instead, Nora is expected to serve his needs and fulfill a certain flighty role.
Torvald calls her a "spendthrift," teasing her about her propensity for wasting money; yet Nora has actually illegally obtained a loan to save her husband's life. Torvald is oblivious of this act, and he continually speaks to his wife with tones of condescension, referring to her as his "squirrel," "pet," and "singing bird." He also often modifies such terms by placing the word "little" in front of them, further highlighting Nora's diminutive place in their relationship.
Torvald never considers the strength of Nora, and he certainly doesn't think she has the power to leave him. When faced with this truth, Torvald desperately begs his wife to stay, but it is too late for Nora to salvage any sense of hope for rebuilding a relationship with a man who has never valued her worth.
Another issue this play raises is evident based on the way audiences perceive the ending. Frustrated with Torvald and feeling hopeless to change her role in their marriage, Nora walks away from it all—even her children. The viewing audience at that time was so shocked by Isben's ending that he was forced to create an alternate ending to make it more acceptable. The New York Times declared Nora an odd woman whom no one could sympathize with. Furthermore, the paper went on to blame Nora for Torvald's sense of unhappiness.
Modern audiences continue to be shocked at Nora's decision to leave her husband and children, nearly 150 years after the play first was first viewed. Yet this reaction begs audiences to question why they would almost certainly not be as shocked if Torvald had left in the end, leaving Nora to care for the children by herself. Women, both then and now, are expected to be wives and mothers and to sacrifice their own dreams and happiness in order to fulfill these roles. Yet these same sacrifices are often not expected of the men whom they marry.