Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is the story of how far a woman can go in her desire to please people she sincerely loves and admire. Nora Helmer is Torvald Helmer’s wife; they live fair and comfortable life. They are happy with Torvald’s new position that is supposed to bring additional revenues to their family. It seems that nothing can spoil that life idyll.
In any relationships, there is always the question about sacrifices. Some women sacrifice their beliefs, men can sacrifice their desires, but finally, those sacrifices are inevitable. Two people in a relationship should understand why they are together and try to maintain that feeling of love, compassion, respect and mutual assistance that is between them. But in many families, the person who is to sacrifice something is a woman. Women are more sensitive and emotional and therefore are ready to do whatever needed to make everyone happy. But the question is whether this makes them happy? Sacrificing all the time, a woman can forget about her desires and thoughts and can lose her identity. She can become the reflection of other people’s beliefs and desires and be completely lost.
From the very beginning of the story, Nora is presented as a pleased woman that is satisfied with her marriage. She seems to admire her husband and love her three children. She affectionately responds to her husband’s teasing:
HEL. [following her]. Come, come, my little skylark must not droop her wings. What is this! Is my little squirrel out of temper? [Taking out his purse.] Nora, what do you think I have got here?
NORA [turning around quickly]. Money!
HEL. There you are. [Gives her some money.] Do you think I don’t know what a lot is wanted for housekeeping at Christmas time?
NORA [counting]. Ten shillings—a pound—two pounds! Thank you, thank you, Torvald; that will keep me going for a long time.
There is an impression that she is not a very deep person and cares for money only, though the first impression is not almost correct. Her husband calls her “a silly girl, ” and Nora appears clever enough not to feel aggrieved.
The new circumstances reveal that during the first years of their marriage, Nora illegally borrowed money to take her husband to Italy, as his health was rather poor. This portrays Nora not just as loving faithful wife, but also as the person who is ready in case of revelation to answer for her actions and sacrifice her law obedience. Nora lied to Torvald that she took money from her father. And during years Nora secretly worked and saved money to repay the debt. And Torvald was still thinking of her as of the pretty doll that can just sit at home, take care of children and spend his money:
HEL. [laughing]. That’s very true—all you can. But you can’t save anything!
NORA [smiling quietly and happily]. You haven’t any idea how many expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald.
Nora understands that her husband is not taking her seriously, but she loves him with all her heart and soul and therefore enjoys her life with him.
Krogstad appears to be the source of Nora’s loan. At the same time, Krogstad works for Torvald, and he wants to fire him, and Krogstad starts to blackmail Nora. Finally, Krogstad wrote a letter to Torvald and Nora insisted that he read it. She was genuinely astonished by his reaction. He seems to be scared not for her, but for his own future life: “I am in the power of unscrupulous man; he can do what he likes with me, ask anything he likes of me…I may be falsely suspected of having been the party to your criminal activity.” Torvald shows himself as the real coward, and he does not even mention that what Nora had done was for his health. Nora now sees him as a selfish person, and can’t understand how she could ever love him. She is not furious with his reaction, however; she accepts it calmly and quietly. But his words, Torvald crossed the whole their mutual life, he even says that he will not give her to raise their children, which is the greatest abuse of the woman. Nora sacrificed everything for his sake; he was ready to destroy everything that she had created in one moment. All his love and affection disappeared at the moment he understood someone could harm him (Goldman). He did not think what could be better for them; he cared just what could be better for him. He was not eager to sacrifice anything, and Nora was becoming more and sadder. After Nora received the letter from Krogstad, where he sent her bonds back, Torvald’s mood changed again. He was again happy and laughing and crying that he was saved. His attitude to Nora changes again, and again he loves and admires her: “try and calm yourself and make your mind easy again, my frightened little signing bird…soon everything will be just as it was before…” He tells that he forgives her, but apparently she doesn’t need his forgiveness anymore. She had seen his real face and understood that he never truly loved her; he treated her like his fancy doll and played with her in their doll’s house (Urban).
Nora suddenly awoke from the long sleep. She knew that something was wrong with her life before, but was afraid to dig deeper. And then she distinctly saw that her real personality is far from the one she reveals to her husband and the one her husband expected her to admit. She would never be the same again. The mechanism was launched.
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