A Doll’s House


These days it is difficult to read an old play and not be shocked by the way woman were treated in society. Unlike today, women did not have the freedom to choose what they would like to be in their future. In the late 1800’s a woman’s purpose was simply to take care of her husband and raise her children. They were treated like possessions rather than human beings who were capable of thinking and making important decisions on their own. In the play A doll’s House the reader is introduced to two characters that have many differences as well as similarities. The women’s names are Nora who is married with children, and Christine, who is a widower and has no children. The contrasts in the two characters are most obvious in the role that each of them has played in their marriages.


At the beginning of the play, Nora is portrayed like a doll, hence the title of the play. Her husband, Torvald, talks to her like a little girl, using terms such as “little lark” or his “song bird” in ways that imply his dominance and inferiority in their relationship (Ibsen 724). Later on, we are shown that Nora is not really as helpless as she is first revealed. Out of all the characters in the play Nora is the sneakiest. Most of her deceptiveness roots from her dishonesty and disloyalty to her husband, Torvald. She constantly lies to him about little things such as weather she has been buying macaroons. We later find out about the crimes that she has committed in the past. Although these crimes were committed out of love for her husband, and were ultimately done to save his life it begins to become apparent that Nora is not nearly as innocent at Torvald thinks she is. Early on it is apparent that Nora has the ability to change her personality as she speaks with different people. By doing so she always gets what she wants, just like a child.


Christine is an old friend of Nora’s who she has not seen or heard from in a very long time that has had a very different life than Nora. She gave up the man she loved to financially support her mother and two younger brothers by marrying a man that she did not really love. When her husband suddenly died it actually freed her from a relationship that she was in for the wrong reasons. Christine was left out on her to own support herself. She was forced into the world and it became necessary for her to earn her own money and to become an independent women.


Christine arrives at Nora’s house unexpectedly and informs Nora of her hardships from the past years which involved the death of her husband. In this scene we begin to see an extremely selfish and insensitive side to Nora. She doesn’t really pay attention to Christine when she talks. She is much more concerned with filling Christine in about how “these last eight years have been so truly happy” (Ibsen 710). Even though Christine has come to her almost out of desperation, Nora still feels the need to prove herself. For example when Nora finds out that Christine has no children, Nora goes on and on explaining how perfect her “three beautiful children” are (Ibsen 711).


Christine seems to feel protective over Nora. It is apparent that she realized that Nora has to be treated like the child she acts like. When Dr. Rank comes over Nora offers him a macaroon. When he brings up the point that macaroons are forbidden in their house, Nora makes up a story and tells him that Christine has brought them as a gift. Christine does not say anything against this because she knows that, just like a child, Nora will be scolded and reprimanded for breaking the rules. We begin to realize the way that Nora controls everything so that she is happy.


Soon we understand why Nora is so sneaky. Christine tells Nora that she didn’t grow and she is “still a child” (Ibsen 725). In an attempt to prove Christine wrong Nora explains her secret. This is when we hear about how Nora