Theme of a Doll's House

The main theme of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” is behaviour that is based on the opinions of others and not being true to yourself. Many of the characters demonstrate this type of behaviour, but the character this theme most significantly applies to is Nora. Nora is Torvald’s loving, yet childish wife, who he treats as his puppet. As the story goes on, we begin to realize that Nora is actually a strong an independent woman, but Torvald does not allow her to express those qualities.

This essay will discuss how Torvald controls Nora, examples of the glimpses of independence we see from Nora and her ultimate realization realization that she has been living her life the way Torvald expects her to. She decides that in order to find true happiness, she ust free herself from this sham of a marriage. It is clear that Nora is not a weak or dependant doll. Torvald is very controlling of Nora and he does not allow her to do anything on her own. Torvald sees her as a prize that he displays to make himself feel important. Torvald is more interested in Nora physically than emotionally.

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He feels that Nora’s main job as his wife is to satisfy him physically whenever he desires her. Torvald does not trust his wife with his money either. In the story Torvald says that Nora will just go and waste the money on something silly like pastries. He views her as an unwise child. He continuously calls her very demeaning names such as “my little skylark” or “my little squirrel”. Nora’s duties are kept very simple. She is to cook, clean the house, and raise the children. Nora depends on Torvald for everything in her life, and he does not want her to have any freedom.

Nora shows us glimpses of her independence throughout the play. At one point, Nora and Torvald were going through a difficult financial time. Nora had to get a job in order to help their family survive. When Nora looks back at her time working, she says that she misses it, indicating her desire to be productive outside of her home. Another example of Nora’s independence and thinking occurs when she flirts with Dr. R. She is aware that he is infatuated with her and using his feelings to get what she wants. Thirdly, Nora demonstrates her independent ability is the tarantella dance.

When she is alone she is able to perform the dance perfectly and can understand the complicated movements. But when she is with Torvald, she pretends she needs his help to distract him from the letter. Clearly, Nora is able to think critically and use manipulation when necessary showing great independence. Finally, Nora shows us that she is can think for herself and do what is best for her. Nora comes to the realization that she has been living a lie throughout her entire marriage. She sees that Torvald only appreciates her when she does what he wants.

For example, when Torvald learns the truth about the loan and the forgery, he is very upset with her. Nora believed that he would love her no matter what and never be mad, but she realizes he cares about what others will think and is shocked by this reaction. She sees that in order for her to be happy she must leave Torvald. Nora exhibits great strength by this act, because she is losing everything she loves. Nora understands that she must separate herself from the things holding her back, and allow herself to be Nora. In conclusion, Nora Helmer realizes that she has been living a life full of lies.

Both Torvald and Nora have not been able to understand each other in the eight years they have been married. Nora is a strong, independent woman who is capable of great things. Being trapped in a marriage with a man like Torvald did not allow her to express her qualities. Her decision to leave Torvald and her family allows her to regain self-belief. Nora now has the opportunity to be a very successful woman, therefore, her decision to leave Torvald was not only a good one, it was the best decision she could have made. As the door slams behind her, we know that her decision is final.