A play serves as the author’s tool for critiquing society. One rarely encounters
the ability to transcend accepted social beliefs. The play reflects
controversial issues that the audience can relate to because they interact in
the same situations every day. As late nineteenth century playwright, Henrick
Ibsen points out the flaws of mankind and also provides an answer to the
controversy. Unknowingly the heroine solves the problem at the end of the play
and indirectly sends a message to the audience on how to solve their own
problems. Henrik Ibsen provides a unique analysis on the issues that his culture
never thought as being wrong. In the play “A Doll’s House”, Ibsen tackles
women’s rights as a matter of importance being neglected. In his play he
acknowledges the fact that in nineteenth century European life the role of the
women was to stay home, raise the children, and attend to her husband. The
aforementioned problem is solved through the playwrights recommendations and
the actions of the characters. In the play “A Doll’s House”, the author uses
realism to present a problem and solution to controversial societal issues.


While “A Dolls House” mainly concentrates on the negative aspects of
culture, there are positive facets explored by Ibsen. Ibsen focuses on the lack
of power and authority given to women, but through Nora demonstrates the
strength and willpower masked by her husband Torvald. To save her husband’s life
Nora secretly forges her father’s signature and receives a loan to finance a
trip to Italy. Nora’s naiveté of the law puts her in a situation that
questions her morality and dedication. Nora is not aware that under the law she
is a criminal. She believes that her forgery is justified through her motive.

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She is not a criminal like Krogstad, because his crime was simply a moral
failing and not for the good of his family. A morally unjustified crime is the
only type of crime. Nora’s believes that her love for her husband is what
propelled her to sign her father’s name and pass it off as his own. Nora’s
motive is to save her husband’s life and keeping it secret is to save him from
pain and humiliation. If he knew, it would hurt his “manly
independence” (p. 22) and upset Nora and Torvald’s “mutual
relations” (p.22). Nora knows that without forging her father’s signature
she would not be able to save her husband. Nora uses her wit to find a way to be
able to overcome the shackles placed on her by society and get enough money to
save Torvald’s life. The sacrifices made by Nora are far outweighed by the
actions of her counterparts. Torvald sees Nora’s only role as being the
subservient and loving wife. He refers to Nora as “my little squirrel”
(Ibsen p.12), “song-bird” (p. 33) or “skylark” (p. 40). To
him, she is only a possession. Torvald calls Nora by pet-names and speaks down
to her because he thinks that she is not intelligent and that she can not think
on her own. Whenever she begins to voice an opinion Torvald quickly drops the
pet-names and insults her as a women. When Nora asks if he can reinstate
Krogstad at the bank he claims that she only asks because she fears that he will
suffer the same fate as her father. Nora realizes that living with Torvald
prevents her from being a real person. He treats her as a doll because that is
what he wants. He does not want a wife who will challenge him with her own
thoughts and actions. The final confrontation between the couple involves more
oppression by Torvald, but by this time Nora has realized the situation he
wishes to maintain. Torvald calls her “childish” (p. 70) and
“ungrateful” (p. 68) even though she saved his life. Nora expected
Torvald to be grateful to her, when this does not happen she decides that the
only way to fix the situation is to leave him and her children and find herself
independently. Nora wants Torvald to take the blame for the forgery and realize
that how he treats her is not the way a husband should treat his wife. When he
doesn’t take the blame she knows that independence is the only answer and so she
leaves. The oppression of women caused many women to believe that their duty in
life was only to be a wife. Ibsen provides a narrative on one woman’s plight to
find her purpose in life. In presenting this problem, Ibsen ends his play with a
solution to the characters’ unhappiness. Ibsen was the first author in Europe to
tackle the issue of women’s place in the world and label it as wrong. Nora’s
realization of Torvald’s part in her misery allows her to leave him. She does
not fully blame Torvald for her unhappiness, but she knows that she can’t be
happy with him. Her expectation of “the most wonderful thing” (Ibsen
p. 72) leaves her with the knowledge that Torvald will never change. Nora
becomes cognizant of the mistreatment she has endured, and consequently leaves
to become someone different. Ibsen encourages women to make a change by taking
action and not to watch their life pass by unfulfillingly. Nora becomes a role
model for change. In A Doll’s House the audience gathers a picture of what it
was like to live in the late eighteen hundreds. This picture is not a positive
one. More wrongs are committed against the characters of this play than any sort
of reward for the hardships they endure. This play reflects an accurate
representation of the society that existed when it was written. Nora finds that
she is trapped in a world that she does not belong in. Nora finds a way out.


Society oppressed Nora and her family by masking the truth of their lives for so
long. Ibsen contributes to the solution by providing his play as an example of
why Europe was wrong.