A Dolls House3



In Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, the personality of the protagonist Nora Helmer is developed and revealed through her interactions and conversations with the other characters in the play, including Mrs. Linde, Nils Krogstad, Dr. Rank and Ann-Marie. Ibsen also uses certain dramatic and literary techniques and styles, such as irony, juxtaposition and parallelism to further reveal interesting aspects of Nora’s personality. Mrs. Linde provides and interesting juxtaposition to Nora, while Krogstad initially provides the plot elements required for Nora’s character to fully expand in the play. Dr. Rank’s love for Nora provides irony and an interesting twist in their relationship, while Ann-Marie acts in a parallel role to Nora in that they are both away from their children for long periods of time. Nora Helmer’s character itself is minimally established and revealed at the beginning of the play, but the reader is further privy to her personality as the play progresses, as she interacts with each of the other minor characters in the play.

Ibsen deliberately chooses to show Nora’s true self by revealing it in conversations between her and other characters; Mrs. Linde is one of these minor characters who is juxtaposed against Nora. Mrs. Linde married primarily for financial security and future ambitions while Nora sincerely believes that she married Torvald for love and happiness. This provides a conflict for the apparently childlike Nora as she realizes that her partner in the marriage probably didn’t marry her for the same reason. Also, an example of dramatic irony arises at the end of the play when Mrs. Linde’s relationship with Krogstad revives again while Nora’s marriage to Helmer crumbles. As Nora unhappily but determinedly leaves her home for a different life, Mrs. Linde’s happiness seems to be just beginning: "How different now! How different! Someone to work for, to live for - a home to build." These sentiments ironically portray the very qualities of married life that Nora desired to win, and keep throughout her life; and these feelings add to her established flair for the romantic.

Since the main plot of A Doll’s House revolves around the debt incurred by Nora upon taking out a loan to pay for Helmer’s recovery, Krogstad functions primarily to set forth the series of actions, which propels much of the story. In contrast to Nora, who seems to never have encountered tremendous difficulty or hardship in her life, Krogstad’s struggles have left him bitter and searching for a better station in life. This attitude is best expressed when he says, "I had to grab hold somewhere; and I dare say that I haven’t been among the worst." This light juxtaposition which affects Nora and Krogstad’s relationship, combined with Nora’s secretive borrowing and money-saving practices creates a lasting impression of her desire that no one, including Helmer, discover her debt to the bank. This clashes directly with the initial portrait of a childlike, carefree and oblivious woman that Nora "was" at the beginning of the play. Nora’s personality slowly changes from a two-dimensional figure to a fully developed and captivating woman who can independently take care of herself and her family without the guiding hand of a man at her side. This is illustrated by her handling of the debt crisis up to the point that her husband finds out. The prevailing belief in nineteenth century society was that women could not handle affairs suited only for men, such as the management of finances or similar tasks and occupations. Ibsen’s Nora progresses from an innocent, apparently oblivious bystander to the her world’s events to a character who has the courage, determination, and intellect to undertake those tasks that Victorian society prohibited for women. Krogstad’s demeanor and attitude toward Nora also reveals certain important aspects of their relationship, and thus her personality. For example, while Torvald figuratively and continually refers to Nora as his "little sky-lark" and "squirrel", Nora’s conversation with Krogstad contains an undercurrent of cautious respect on the part of Krogstad and fear and foreboding on the part of Nora. For Krogstad, a woman as independent as Nora is a novelty, and thus he is nowhere near as condescending and parental as Torvald is and a man is expected to be. This element of Nora and Krogstad’s association