A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen focuses on love and relationships and how people show affection to the ones that they love and interact with. Each character presents his or her own methods of showing affection. Some of these methods used by the characters are very unconventional considering the given relationship. Through the characters of Torvald, Nora, Dr. Rank, Christine, and Krogstad, Ibsen reveals both the pleasant and unpleasant sides of love and relationships.
Through Torvald, Ibsen portrays how love can be twisted into authority. Torvald has been married to Nora for eight years, yet they seem to know very little about each other. From the interactions they do have one can tell that Torvald shows affection towards Nora through the purchasing of material things or simply giving Nora money. This is clear when Helmer says, “Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?” (Ibsen 11). Torvald is also controlling of Nora, this is evident in a situation where Christine encourages Nora to partake in eating some candy, but Nora is reluctant to at first because it goes against Torvalds wishes. Despite the fact that candy was Nora’s favorite, Torvald kept her from taking it arguing that it was not good for her teeth. Krogstad’s blackmail causes Torvald to have an enormous outburst at Nora throughout the play. Torvald verbally and physically assaults Nora, he grabs her and shoves her across the room and at one point slaps Nora across the face. Torvald calls her a stupid woman, however Christine brings Torvald a letter stating
Power brings influence and fortune in every society. Henrik shows the power of women through Nora Helmer, who is one of the main characters in the Doll’s House. Throughout the play, Nora symbolizes the women. She manipulates the men around her in a clever way that they do not even realize. When the play starts, she looks happy and responds to Torvald’s teasing affectionately. She apparently has a happy family, with friends full of love. However, she ostensibly do not care so much about her funny existence, which makes her patronized, pampered and coddled.
As the play progresses, Nora rules out the perception of Torvald towards her, proving that she is smart enough to understand all the details of business. This shows that she is not just a mere housewife who can be disrespected but an intellectual who is beyond wifehood. She says, “Our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa’s doll-child” (Ibsen 41). The manner in which she describes the pain that she has endured secretly to make things right for the love of her family shows the ambition and determination that she has. The kind of affection she has towards Torvald makes her take the risk of breaking the law only to ensure that Torvald remains alive. Nora is so much dedicated to be a loving and responsible wife and mother. She can do anything to win the love of her father and husband including pretending to be someone she is not. The character does things that are contrary to her personality to please her husband. Even though, she makes up her mind and quit when she realizes that their relationship is not working out.
Nils Krogstad is another character who is also a protagonist in the Doll’s House. He seems not to care so much about other peoples’ feelings. For instance in the play, he is quoted saying “Even money-lenders, hacks, well, a man like me, can have a little of what you call feeling, you know” (Ibsen 6). However, he loves his family despite the challenges he is having with somebody he thought he would spend the rest of his life with. He is one character who is a victim of circumstances when it comes to love. He could not manage to win the love of Mrs. Linde because he did not have enough money to take care of the family. His relationship is torn and he blames it all on Mrs. Linde for the crimes he is committing.
Mrs. Christine Linde is another character in Henrik’s play who is tough and prudent. The assertion is clear when she tells Krogstad “I have learned to act prudently. Life, and hard, bitter necessity have taught me that” (Ibsen 4). She sacrificed her love for Krogstad to get married to a rich businessman who could take care of her ailing mother and her brothers. However, she does not find peace in her relationship when almost everyone in her family died and goes back to Krogstad. Unlike Nora, Mrs. Linde is a tough woman who has experienced the life of staying single.
Dr. Rank is another character in the play whose contribution is worth noting. Even though he does not dominate the play, his relationship with Nora is important to note. He reveals to Christine and Nora some of the health secrets of Krogstad. His relationship with Nora gives the audience the distance existing between the Helmers. Nora states that her husband “used to seem almost jealous if I mentioned any of the dear folk at home, so naturally I gave up doing so. But I often talk about such things with Doctor Rank” (Ibsen 11). The assertion tells the audience how Nora would be open to Dr. Rank but not her husband.
Ibsen, Henrik, A Doll’s House. United States: Sheba Blake Publishing, 2013. Internet resource.