Published 19 Aug 2017
Henrik Ibsen’s realistic drama A Doll’s House exposes the follies of the Victorian society in general and the false life led by many women in particular. Though considered very revolutionary in his times, Ibsen boldly presents a strong case for women’s equality and their right to lead their own life through the character of Nora. Nora’s self perception as a doll leading a doll’s life justifies the title of the drama. However, her final rebellion at the end of the drama to lead an independent life can be traced earlier in her actions and speech in the drama.
Nora’s constant lying is a strong indication of her latent desire to lead a free and happy life. As a faithful and loving wife Nora wants to support her husband to come out of the financial difficulties they have been in. But she makes all the attempts in secrecy without the knowledge of her husband. She not only borrows money but also earns it secretly. She earns money working as a copyist by keeping herself in her room for hours. Obviously, the very act of locking herself in and working inside the room do strongly suggest her inherent craving for freedom and happiness.
Her greatest help to her husband also comes from her biggest lie which eventually shatters her life. Nora borrows money from Krogstad by forging her father’s signature to support her ailing her husband. She wants to keep it a secret forever and works to pay back the money to Krogstad. This shows not only her strong resolve to protect her husband and family but also her budding independent nature in facing the challenges.
Nora’s promises to Mrs. Linde and Krogstad are suggestive of her growing confidence levels in herself. When Mrs. Linde approaches Nora seeking her recommendation to Mr. Torvald in providing her a small job Nora responds spontaneously and promises her the much needed support. She also tries her best to save Krogstad’s job by pleading her unwilling husband. She does not like to reveal her secret of borrowing money to her husband even though she feels very nervous about the entire issue. It clearly reflects her strong determination to face the consequences.
Nora’s conversation with Mrs. Linde amply reveals her inner mind. After telling Linde about how she got the money she reveals some more of her latent feelings. She says, “My goodness, it’s delightful to think of, Christine! Free from care! To be able to be free from care, quite free from care; to be able to play and romp with the children; to be able to keep the house beautifully and have everything just as Torvald likes it! And, think of it, soon the spring will come and the big blue sky!” (Act I, Part II). Nora’s liking for ‘freedom from care’ is a clear indication of her inner mind. She loves leading her life as there is freedom and happiness in it.
She is strongly influenced by the doctor’s words of ‘must live’ attitude and her husband’s ideology of keeping the children away from corrupt influences. Dr. Rank plays an influencing role in shaping the mind of Nora. She has always been treated as a mature adult by Dr. Rank unlike her husband who always treated her like a pet. Dr. Rank’s final words leave a strong impact on Nora’s mind and seem to confirm her thinking of leading her own life. In addition, Torvald’s views about bringing up the children by keeping them away from any immoral influence help to awaken her conscience to go for a right and meaningful life.
Thus, Nora’s growing love for freedom and happiness can be observed in several of her actions like lying for the sake of her husband and offering help to people around her. In fact, the experiences of the people around her help to awaken her dormant desire to come out her false life and to lead a happy and free life.
- Ibsen Henrik, A Doll’s-House