What quotes illustrate the theme appearances vs. reality in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House ?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One excellent example of a passage or quote that presents the theme of reality vs. appearances can be seen in the final act. In this final act, Nora realizes that she has never actually been really happy in her marriage. In the first scene, she seems to be happy; she even believes herself to be happy. We see her expressing her joy with her friend Christine as she tells Christine about her three lovely children and her husband's promotion with a huge salary, "I feel so relieved and so happy, Christine! it will be splendid to have heaps of money and not need to have any anxiety, won't it?" (I). However, Nora soon learns that this happiness is just an illusion. While she appears to be happy, the reality is that she does not feel enough freedom in her life, enough purpose, to be able to feel truly happy. Hence, one good passage dealing with appearance vs. reality can be seen after Torvald asks if she has not been happy, and Nora replies:

No, only merry. And you have always been so kind to me. But our home has been nothing but a playroom. (III)

Another good passage can be seen earlier on when Torvald is talking about Krogstad's reputation. Torvald believes Krogstad is guilty of forgery and holds him accountable for not coming clean with the matter. Instead, he sees Krogstad as pretending to be innocent all these years while trying to rebuild his reputation:

Just think how a guilty man like that has to lie and play the hypocrite with every one, how he has to wear a mask in the presence of those near and dear to him. (I)

Since Krogstad is being characterized as a liar and pretending to be innocent while he is really guilty, we see that this is another excellent illustration of the theme reality vs. appearance.

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