Doll's

House By Henrik Ibsen
"A Doll's House" is classified under the "second phase" of

Henrik Ibsen's career. It was during this period which he made the transition
from mythical and historical dramas to plays dealing with social problems.It was
the first in a series investigating the tensions of family life.Written during
the Victorian era, the controversial play featuring a femaleprotagonist seeking
individuality stirred up more controversy than any ofhis other works. In
contrast to many dramas of Scandinavia in that timewhich depicted the role of
women as the comforter, helper, and supporter ofman, "A Doll's House"
introduced woman as having her own purposes andgoals. The heroine, Nora Helmer,
progresses during the course of the playeventually to realize that she must
discontinue the role of a doll and seekout her individuality. David Thomas
describes the initial image of Nora as that of a dollwife who revels in the
thought of luxuries that can now be afforded, whois become with flirtation, and
engages in childlike acts of disobedience(259). This inferior role from which

Nora progressed is extremelyimportant. Ibsen in his "A Doll's House"
depicts the role of women assubordinate in order to emphasize the need to reform
their role in society. Definite characteristics of the women's subordinate role
in arelationship are emphasized through Nora's contradicting actions. Her
infatuation with luxuries such as expensive Christmas gifts contradicts her
resourcefulness in scrounging and buying cheap clothing; her defiance ofTorvald
by eating forbidden Macaroons contradicts the submission of heropinions,
including the decision of which dance outfit to wear, to herhusband; and Nora's
flirtatious nature contradicts her devotion to herhusband. These occurrences
emphasize the facets of a relationship inwhich women play a dependent role:
finance, power, and love. Ibsenattracts our attention to these examples to
highlight the overallsubordinate role that a woman plays compared to that of her
husband. Thetwo sides of Nora contrast each other greatly and accentuate the
fact thatshe is lacking in independence of will. The mere fact that Nora's
well-intentioned action is consideredillegal reflects woman's subordinate
position in society; but it is heractions that provide the insight to this
position. It can be suggestedthat women have the power to choose which rules to
follow at home, but notin the business world, thus again indicating her
subordinateness. Noradoes not at first realize that the rules outside the
household apply toher. This is evident in Nora's meeting with Krogstad regarding
herborrowed money. In her opinion it was no crime for a woman to do everything
possible to save her husband's life. She also believes that heract will be
overlooked because of her desperate situation. She fails tosee that the law does
not take into account the motivation behind herforgery. Marianne Sturman submits
that this meeting with Krogstad was herfirst confrontation with the reality of a
"lawful society" and she dealswith it by attempting to distract
herself with her Christmas decorations(16). Thus her first encounter with rules
outside of her "doll's house"results in the realization of her naivety
and inexperience with the realworld due to her subordinate role in society. The
character of Nora is not only important in describing to roleof women, but also
in emphasizing the impact of this role on a woman.Nora's child-like manner,
evident through her minor acts of disobedience and lack of responsibility
compiled with her lack of sophistication further emphasize the subordinate role
of woman. By the end of the play this isevident as she eventually sees herself
as an ignorant person, and unfitmother, and essentially her husband's wife.

Edmond Gosse highlights thepoint that "Her insipidity, her dollishness,
come from the incessantrepression of her family life (721)." Nora has been
spoonfed everythingshe has needed in life. Never having to think has caused her
to becomedependent on others. This dependency has given way to subordinateness,
onethat has grown into a social standing. Not only a position in society, buta
state of mind is created. When circumstances suddenly place Nora in aresponsible
position, and demand from her a moral judgment, she has none togive. She cannot
possibly comprehend the severity of her decision toborrow money illegally. Their
supposed inferiority has created a class ofignorant women who cannot take action
let alone accept the consequences oftheir actions. "A Doll's House" is
also a prediction of change from thissubordinate roll. According to Ibsen in his
play, women will eventuallyprogress and understand her position. Bernard Shaw
notes that when Nora'shusband inadvertently deems her unfit in her role as a
mother, she begins to realize that her actions consisting of playing with her
children happilyor dressing them nicely does not necessarily make her a suitable
parent(226). She needs to be more to her children than an empty figurehead.From
this point, when Torvald is