A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen shocked its first audience back when it first came out. The plays realist perception on modern life was nothing that had ever been viewed in theatre at the time. Even though it disturbed many viewers during its first showings they had just experienced the birth of modern drama.
In the early 1900’s and prior women were treated as property. They were told what to do, wear, say and how to act and this was accepted. Ibsen wanted to show how inhumane this was in A Doll’s ignorant House and it was portrayed little by little, as the play progressed, by a ajor theme, the replacement of appearance by reality.
Throughout the entire play Nora is constantly being treated as a young child. Torvald is the main character responsible for his wife’s childish behavior. For example, he is always calling Nora by a “pet name”, such as “little sky-lark” or “little squirrel”, as though she is his daughter, rather then his spouse. He also restricts Nora from certain privileges, as a father would, like denying her the right to eat macaroons because it will ruin her teeth.
When she goes against Torvald’s word and till eats the macaroons it is the slightest showing that she does not agree with Torvald and wants to do some things against his will. Yet in the beginning of the play, there are still no obvious clues that show how Nora truly wants to be treated by Torvald and she plays along. She seems happy with her current life yet she craves to live independently. Even Mrs. Linde, Nora’s close friend, says that she is being treated like a spoiled child and getting whatever she wants because Nora’s father and husband have money.
Mrs. Linde states that Nora has never had any problems because “daddy” always paid the bills and took care of her; through comments like, “you haven’t known much trouble or hardship in your own life. ” (Ibsen 54). Still Nora hides her true self and says things that make her seem that she enjoys the life she is living like, “Oh, Kristine, I feel so light and happy! Won’t it be lovely to have stacks of money and not a care in the world? ” (Ibsen 49) Nora is childlike throughout the entire play, never taking responsibility or being serious.
For example, when her children get home with Anne Marie Nora just tosses their cloths on to the floor. Also, she plays games with them like she is one of their sisters, not an authority figure-mother. Torvald does not ask Nora to tend to the household responsibilities; however, she does not inquire or participate in any of the duties, like a carefree child. Until the last scene where she completely shows her true self to Torvald. She explains that her whole life of living as Torvald’s doll has not been the life she has wanted to live.
She sees that if she would stay with Torvald there would be no possible escape from the life she is living so she abruptly decides to leave him and start anew. Torvald was completely dumbfounded by her decision; he could not see through her phony appearance to the reality of what she truly needed. This theme is shown throughout the entire play in minor events also. For instance, Dr. Rank and Nora have been great friends for many years, but in reality Dr. Rank has always admired Nora and decides after he figures out that he is on his death bed he will tell Nora his true feelings owards her.
Nora is upset when Dr. Rank shatters the appearance that their relationship is innocent. The theme occurs in even more simplistic part of the play and even in single lines of characters such as Torvald being appalled when Krogstad calls him by his first name at the bank-it doesn’t appear proper and how Dr. Rank wants to appear healthy and hide the reality of his conditions. All of these appearances and masks that the characters put on are in time taken off and expose the how the characters truly feel about themselves.