Uploaded by Phan Nguyen

Henrik Ibsen Doll House response

The foundation of Nora and Torvald's relationship is dependence. HOW does Ibsen suggest that
dependence in a relationship stifles independence and growth of both the individual and the
A relationship that epitomizes dependence, is a deadlock from which neither individual can grow,
unless they are able to break away from societal boundaries. As seen through Nora and Torvald’s
interactions, the disconcerting dialogue between the couple reveals the extent of Torvald’s desire to
objectify Nora, degrading her as an individual, and it is perfectly exhibited through the form of a play
which is a source of entertainment, the dialogues are used to their full extent by Ibsen to indicate the
casual nature of their bizarre exchange. Torvald’s repetition and reassurance ​“My treasure, my
songbird….No one else’s”,​ is similar to the technique of conditioning used in training pets, suggests
that Nora perhaps is not even considered human in his eyes and perhaps a way to reassure himself that
he still has control over her to be able to calm her fears. Torvald’s excessive use of possessives when
speaking of Nora devoids her individuality and assumes ownership of his wife in the most degrading
way. Other evidence displays Torvald referring to Nora as various animals in an endearing but
sickening tone, such as ‘sulky squirrel’, ‘little skylark, and ‘frightened dove’. When Torvald scolds
Nora, ​“A songbird must have a clean beak,”​ the imagery is used in a way that abuses and punishes
individual expression, forcing Nora to beg for rewards or for a chance at autonomy, much like an
animal at his beck and call lacking recognition of​ her humanity…(insert quote)​ .
In addition, Torvald’s domain is within the home and beyond, as the sole provider of the house,
leading to Nora’s lack of knowledge about the world beyond motherhood and being a wife. Torvald
scathingly insults Nora’s femininity and intelligence several times,​”Darling you can’t expect to help
me...your feminine weakness...makes me love you more”,​ purposefully downplaying her capability due
to her gender as expected in his society. This conveniently establishes Torvald as head of the family,
and as the patriarch renders him unable to accept his mistakes and when the time comes Torvald’s
cowardness prompts him to make the excuse that “No man sacrifices his honour for the person he
loves” contrasting Nora’s selflessness to Torvald’s self centeredness. The lack of indepence from Nora
and dominance of Torvald is an unbalanced power dynamic which eventually tolls due to it stifling the
relationship and restricts growth that would have allowed both individuals to adapt, as relationship are
varied in the contemporary context Ibsen’s work is a reminder of value of women in a relationships
and the discrepancy between a women’s influence in the world in comparison to their male
counterparts especially in influential political roles.
Ibsen also fulfils his criticism of Nora and Torvald’s wilting relationship by juxtaposing them against
Mrs Linde and Krogstad’s blooming one. There is a clear distinction between the trust and respect
each couple holds for each other, in his anger Torvald states,”​I can never trust you again,”​ while Mrs
Linde knowing full well of Krogstad’s mistakes still loves him as “​two drowned people [helping] one
another”.​ A true difference in relying on one’s partner versus the dominating power Torvald had over
Nora due to her dependency on him. In comparing Nora and Mrs Linde’s character, their first meeting
in the play passes with Mrs Linde commenting,”[Nora] you are such an extravagant thing at school” to
which Nora replies,”that’s what Torvald calls me...featherbrained.” Mrs Linde implies about Nora’s
superficial leverage against the men in her life, her sexuality or beauty, yet this reliance on physical
attraction alone leaves her vulnerable when her femininity no longer suffices. Mrs Linde despite her
lack of purpose, was only so since she no longer had anyone to rely on her, showing her capability to
look after herself as well as others. Nora’s disregard of Mrs Linde’s situation, drawing attention to her
supposedly ‘ideal’ family, ​“No children...how awful, I’ve three beautiful of my own,”​ serving as a sore
reminder of Nora’s stagnant childish state of egocentrism (piaget), as a result of being ‘raised’ by
Torvald thus she was, ​“Transferred from [her] daddy’s care to [Torvald]”​. Similarly Krogstad was
willing to suffer the wrath of society by committing forgery, and forced into being a villain of
circumstance while Torvald was an antagonist created by society, entrenched by the selfish desire to
assume power, overworking and eventually destroying his mental health in the process.
Where Krogstad and Torvald differ is in their ability to accept their mistakes and taking their female
partner as their equal, Mrs Linde was seen as respected and Krogstad was surprised that she would
take him despite knowing the crime he has committed, while Nora despite her icy demeanour and
harshness when she realised her worth and what she has sacrificed for the family, was still belittled by
Torvald’s rant of, ”​This is a joke...unreasonable, ungrateful​. You are a child, a girl!” Torvald’s
expectation of Nora relied on her innocence and her willingness to entertain him, in turn providing her
‘protection’ yet it seems Nora had the most to fear of Torvald. However, as Nora realises that she “
[is] first a human being, the same as you [Torvald]”​ her questioning of authority and decisive gains
for herself the agency that she lacked, Nora becomes the beacon for women of all ages as their break
their bonds of servitude to their family in their journey of self discovery; in academia and other
pursuits. Nora’s individuality was consumed by Torvald’s identity that he provided her in their
marriage, like a ‘doll’ that is given character by the player and their relationship eventually
disintegrates as Nora departs to find her value in the world.