12 Dec 2014
A Doll’s House; Appearance vs. Reality, Selfishness
Henrik Ibsen, considered by many to be the father of modern prose drama, while living in Italy in 1879, Ibsen published his masterpiece, A Doll’s House. In A Doll’s House, Ibsen uses the themes and structures of classical tragedy while writing a play about every day, unexceptional people. Nora borrows money from Krogstad while Torvald is in danger of dying, but forges her father’s signature. Krogstad had already been in a situation in which he forged his signature and was humiliated by it. Nora must find a way of paying Krogstad back without Torvald finding out of the crime she has committed. A Doll’s House includes Ibsen’s concern for women’s rights, and for human rights in general. Ibsen also presents a simple picture of the sacrificial role held by women of all economic classes in his society. Over the course of A Doll’s House, appearances prove to be misleading acts that hide the reality of the play’s characters and situations. This essay will examine Nora’s, Torvalds, and Krogstad’s appearances versus what they’re really trying to portray in the play by acting selfishly towards the whole situation. Our first impressions of Nora and Torvald are eventually revealed. Nora initially seems a silly, childish woman, but as the play progresses, we see that she is intelligent, motivated, and a strong-willed, independent thinker. Torvald, though he plays the part of the strong, benevolent husband, reveals himself to be cowardly, petty, and selfish when he fears that Krogstad may expose him to scandal. Krogstad too reveals himself to be a much more sympathetic and merciful character than he first appears to be. Torvald desires respect from his employees, friends, and wife, status and image are important to him, which leads Nora to act as a doll like wife. Nora’s comment to Mrs. Linde that Torvald doesn’t like to see sewing in his home indicates that Torvald likes the idea and the appearance of a beautiful, carefree wife who does not have to work but rather serves as a showpiece. By the end of the play, we see that Torvald’s obsession with controlling his home’s appearance and his repeated defeat and denial of reality have harmed his family and his happiness is destroyed.
Krogstad’s willingness to allow Nora’s torment to continue is cruel, he does not feel sympathy for her. Krogstad expresses himself, “even money-lenders, hacks, well, a man like me, can have a little of what you call feeling, you know.” His past experiences haunt him and have impacted his future. He is selfish to black mail Nora in trying to get a promotion so that his reputation can be fixed and can be known for other things that have committed a crime of forgery. His appearance too many have affected him and desires that if he earns the promotion by Torvald he can be at peace by not having to deal with his bad reputation any longer. Instead of helping Nora he…