Doll’s House

In Henrik Ibsens play A Dolls 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 Noras personality. Mrs. Linde provides and interesting
juxtaposition to Nora, while Krogstad initially provides the plot elements
required for Noras character to fully expand in the play. Dr. Ranks 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 Helmers 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
Noras 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 didnt marry her for the
same reason. Also, an example of dramatic irony arises at the end of the play
when Mrs. Lindes relationship with Krogstad revives again while Noras
marriage to Helmer crumbles. As Nora unhappily but determinedly leaves her home
for a different life, Mrs. Lindes 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
Dolls House revolves around the debt incurred by Nora upon taking out a loan
to pay for Helmers 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,
Krogstads 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 havent been among the worst.” This
light juxtaposition which affects Nora and Krogstads relationship, combined
with Noras 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.

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Noras 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. Ibsens Nora progresses from an innocent, apparently
oblivious bystander to the her worlds events to a character who has the
courage, determination, and intellect to undertake those tasks that Victorian
society prohibited for women. Krogstads 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”, Noras
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 Krogstads association is illustrative of Noras unique
character and intriguing personality. Ibsen deliberately uses the symbolism of
Nora and Krogstads relationship to raise questions about womens actual –
as opposed to devised – role in society and to develop Noras persona beyond
that of a submissive, role-playing woman. Another minor character who indirectly
reveals much of


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