Nov 10, 2017 in Literature

Beauty in Madness An Analysis of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

People the world over have asked through various ways and in different events what the essence of a woman is. The question does not necessarily aim to compare women to men, but to explore further into the importance of womanhood in relation to all the other aspects of life and living. Henrik Ibsen brings out in his play A Doll’s House the significance of women’s sacrifices in the roles that they play within the family. History has shown how women have always been regarded as the inferior beings. Ibsen suggests otherwise, believing that in marriage both man and woman must set off to do their tasks and enjoy their individual lives as much as their married life together. In A Doll’s House, he focuses on the sacrifice that the lead character, Nora Helmer, has to make to keep her husband’s health and her family’s happiness. All the while, Ibsen parallels Nora with her husband Torvald who is too absorbed with his wife’s beauty to care about her other qualities.

The conflict of the story starts when Nora admits to having forged her father’s signature in order to authorize a loan which was supposed to help shoulder the costs of Torvald’s recuperation from illness. Knowing that her husband would disapprove of loans or borrowing money, Nora kept this secret to herself. Meanwhile, the employee of Torvald, Krogstad, also knew about Nora’s secret. When Krogstad was informed that he was about to be fired, he blackmailed Nora into convincing Torvald not to fire him in exchange for the information that he knew about Nora’s forgery and loan. Nora tried persuading her husband to keep Krogstad in the company, but Torvald would not hear of it and fired Krogstad nonetheless. When, finally, Torvald knew about his wife’s secret, he was deeply dismayed and called her a hypocrite and a liar.

A Doll’s Play showed that the essence of a woman is found in the intricacies of her role. Nora was not just the little “silly girl” that her husband fondly called her. Because she was smart, she kept her loan in a secret from her husband. She knew that he loved her only for the beauty and she would be useless for him once it is gone. She planned to remind her husband about her sacrifice when he was in poor health when she will be no longer able to delight him. She had visualized that Torvald would accept the blame as a good and protective husband would. Instead, in the end, Nora saw her husband’s selfish concern for his own reputation. Henrik Ibsen presented how marriage always requires honesty and understanding of each other’s needs. A married couple is still composed of two human beings who are not perfect, who may have faults and differences. These differences have to be understood well and accepted by both parties in order for a marriage to work. A woman’s essence as a mother and a wife lies in the sacrifices she voluntarily makes to keep her family. Her roles do not define her. More than anything, a woman’s role strengthens her into discovering herself and her value as a woman.

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