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Dolls House

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This is a three act play written by Henrik Ibsen a Norwegian playwright. The play was written in December 1879 and later that month its first public performance was done at the Royal theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark (Ibsen, p.47). Upon the plays publication sharp controversies emerged and the play was by far criticized by the then marriage norms. Some however are of the view that the theme of the play is not at all about women rights but instead gives people a golden opportunity to find out how they really are and strive becoming a better persons (Krutch, p.54).

Act one

The act starts with some form of excitement. Nora returns home from Christmas shopping and the husband meets her from the study room for chitchat. With joy they have a chat on how their financial status will change given that Torvald has secured a new job as the bank manager. Torvald speaks of how horrible his debts make him feel.

Later thereafter a childless widow and Nora’s friend is moving back to the city having been left by the husband without any money. She has tried a couple of different jobs and hopes she can land herself on a less strenuous job (Hornby, p.72). At this point Nora reveals to Christine that she had brought some money from a scandalous lawyer Nils Krogstad to save her sick husband.  All along Nora had claimed that she had borrowed the money from the father who died almost at the same time.  She takes bride from the fact that she has been repaying the loan from her housekeeping savings and a job of copying papers that she does secretly in her room. She says, “as if a were a man” referring to her ability to repay debt (Ibsen, p.63). Christine secures a job at the bank as a secretary thanks to Nora’s efforts to convince the husband that she desperately needs a job.

Krogstan worried that he will get fired, heads to Nora request her to help him get out of the mess. However Nora remains non committal and Krogstan warns of using all at his disposal to fight for his job. It is at this instant that he points out that he knows that she committed forgery on the bond she acquired with the father being the signatory, although the father had died three days ago. The law required that a woman needed a male adult as a co-signer on such matters.

Act two

Christine helps Nora to fix a dress for a costume party they are to attend with the husband the following day. The two ladies plead with Torvald to reinstate the lawyer back to his job at the bank with Nora claiming that she fears that Krogstad may publish slanderous articles about him and ruin Torvald career.  He would hear none of these and although he agrees that he is a reformed man he is bitter of the fact that Krogstad is not respectful enough to him in front of his fellow workers (Ibsen, p.71). He then leaves to the study room. Dr. Rank gets in and reveals to Nora that he is suffering from spinal tuberculosis that is at its fatal stage. The second revelation is even more disturbing to Nora as he claims that he is in love with her. Nora convinces him that she loves him very much as a friend and nothing more (Hornby, p.72).

Having been fired krogstad declares that he is no longer interest with the balance, but he will use the bond to blackmail Torvald. He has two objectives in doing so; first to make sure that reinstated and secondly, that he get a promotion. Nora explains her efforts of trying to persuade the husband but these falls on the deaf ears of Krogstad. Krogstad has since written a letter to Torvald and placed it in his locked mail box (Ibsen, p.107). A series of events happen with Nora making all efforts to make sure that the husband does not access the mails. But more interestingly she contemplates taking her life to save her husband the shame.

Act three

Christine who was Krogstad lover before she got married had promised Nora that she would help in her predicament. Christine tells Krogstad that she only married the husband to support her sick mother. Krogstad moved by this revelation offers her a second chance. He as well decides to take the back from Torvald. The truth must come out for the sake of saving Nora’s marriage and therefore decide to let Torvald know the truth (Törnqvist, p.72).

Torvald is to later get the letter. Furious Torvald rebukes her wife, describing her as being immoral dishonest and unable to rise the children. He accepts that Krogstad is in control and must get what he wants. He reveals that from then their marriage will but only be a matter of convenience. Krogstad returns the incriminating evidence and admit that he laments his deeds.

From the happenings Nora realizes who her husband really is. Though he apologizes Nora insists that she want to leave and get time to soul search and find out how she really is and what she want to do with her life (Hornby, p.85). Nora says she comes first as herself and her role as a mother and a wife are thus secondary. She must go, as she has been treated as a play doll by the two men she valued most, the father and husband.


The sacrificial role of women

In this play to what extend women can sacrifice in order to save their families cannot come clearer than it has be portrayed. Christine abandons her true but poor love to marry a rich man in order to save her motherand her two brothers. The Nora caretaker had abandoned her child to support herself by working as a nanny (Ibsen, p.89).

Nora though seemed as the rich woman in the plays settings makes major sacrifices for her family. First she commits a forgery to save the husband’s life. Secondly, she works secretly to repay this loan. Her sacrifice is even clearer in tightening the household budget in order to save for the debt repayment. 

Parental and filial obligations

Three people are portrayed to uphold this theme i.e. Dr. Rank, Torvald and Nora hey believe that parents should be not only honest but also upstanding as immorality is inherited by the children (Ibsen, p.104). A perfect example is that of Rank. Due to his father reckless behavior he suffers from venereal disease.


From a general overview, the female characters appear to be by far much strong than their male counterparts. First it is Christine who sacrifices to save her family she as well convinces her former lover to drop the revenge thoughts he has for Torvald. Nora on the other hand sacrifices for her husband and she can be credited for saving his life (Törnqvist, p.68). She is strong and sticks to her decision to leave though unpopular to the majority. The males are weak. At the onset Torvald can not appreciate his wife sacrifice for the family he is more worried about his reputation more than anything else. It takes a woman to overturn Krogstad firm decision of dealing with Torvald. Dr.Rank dies of a disease he inherited from the father (Ibsen, p.95).

Critic of the play argue that the play does not give due regard to the marriage institution which by then was the most holy of all covenants. Nora abandoning of her family is no taken in good light. Critics also see the essence of the play as being that of dishonoring men at the expense of woman.

In conclusion, play is a good tool in expressing the power of a woman and showing how far she can go to save situation that warrant saving.

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