In A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, a character’s thoughts are shown through their actions. At the beginning of the play, “the norm” is portrayed in a family of five where the mother has two jobs; to care for her children and husband, and the house. Although this might seem like any other housewife’s life, it has a lot more to it than readers originally thought.
Mothers are trapped in this concept of having to satisfy their husbands at all times even if it means they have to do what they don’t want to. Back in 1920s, the thought of contradicting a man was unacceptable and the idea of divorce was just unimaginable. Ibsen has one purpose, and that is to emphasize what women in the 1920s went through, their feelings and thoughts as well as the impact of their actions through their psychological. At the beginning of the play, readers immediately view an ancient culture, where women and men are very different role wise. Nora, a housewife in the play, takes readers through all her feelings throughout the play.
In the first few scenes, Nora seems to be consumed by the idea of what “the norm” at the time was, therefore, she never once thought that maybe she was living someone else’s life and not her own. The character has a frivolous personality, she claps her hands often and tends to giggle at even the uttermost irrelevant comments. When given some money to buy Christmas gifts, Nora excitedly exclaims “Thank you, thank you, Torvald; that will keep me going for a long time” (Nora Act I). In this quote, Nora shows more of her personality to readers. That she is, indeed, like a child. Her relationship with her husband is more of a daughter-father relationship than a husband-wife one. Another example of a time readers see the role women played was when Nora told Mrs. Linde that she borrowed money… Mrs.
Linde’s reaction was very typical of a 1920s woman, she was in shock “No, a wife cannot borrow without her husband’s consent” (Mrs. Linde Act I). In this quote, it is clearly seen that a woman had absolutely no control over her husband, on the contrary, the husband was the one with the absolute control. This gives emphasis to what the customs were back in the 1920s and how women’s role were. Ibsen emphasized this in the play because he believed women were treated unfairly, and wanted other to see it too.
When Nora and Torvald have conversations, Nora always seems like she has more to say but doesn’t… For example, a time she opened up to how she really feels to her friends, Dr. Rank and Mrs.
Linde was when Torvald wasn’t home, meanwhile eating macaroons, “There is just one thing in the world now that I should dearly love to do” (Nora Act I). Both Dr. Rank and Mrs. Linde were in shock after hearing what Nora really wanted to say, but they kept quiet because that is what “the norm” was made to be.
Nora says what Torvald wants to hear, never what she really wants to say. Nora also tends to hide her true feelings. When Mrs. Linde was over Nora and Helmer’s home, Nora expressed a feeling of worry and anxiety. However, as soon as Helmer walked in, Nora switched all her emotions around and instead of worried and anxious, she seemed happy and excited to see her husband.
Although that is very uncommon for people to do nowadays, it was told to be Nora’s obligation. She hides everything from her husband as clearly seen… “Hush! there’s Torvald come home. Do you mind going in to the children for the present? Torvald can’t bear to see dressmaking going on.
Let Anne help you” (Nora Act II). This sentence shows that clearly Nora is not comfortable talking about her personal problems with her husband; thus illustrating she is not in a healthy marriage. Nora’s psychological is shown to be beaten up by her hidden emotions throughout the entire play before she finally speaks up about it. Towards the end of the play, after going through so much stress and anxiety through most of it, Nora finally explodes. Helmer reads the letter that had inside Nora’s future and is furious to hear she’s been lying to him and that she forged her father’s signature. Nora quickly apologizes to Helmer, trying to calm down because it was known this time was coming.
However, Helmer hits her and this being the climax of the play, all goes downhill from that. After Nora has already been forgiven