Facades in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

When a young girl plays with her doll house, she imagines a make-believe world full of enchantment. However, little does she realize the false and unattainable image of perfection that lies before her. With every miniature doorway and elaborate bookcase, the doll house disguises reality with a mask of flawless excellence. Similarly, Henrik Ibsen describes many appearances in A Doll House as mere façades of deception. These images reiterate the theme that outer appearances are never what they seem. Through his dealing with Nora’s societal role and his use of symbolism, Ibsen effectively contrasts the themes of appearance and reality and suggests that all façades will eventually be revealed.

In society’s view, the marriage between Nora and Torvald is a wonderful relationship. Torvald supports the family through his job at the bank while Nora is the caretaker for the children. However, they have no real communication between them. Torvald commonly refers to Nora as his “little lark” or “squirrel” (1010, 1012). He never treats Nora as an equal marital partner, much less an individual. In the end, the marriage has to end because of its lack of real communication. Thus, a source of deception in the play stems from the fact that the actual marriage between Nora and Torvald is not a healthy relationship, as in society’s view. Furthermore, when Nora decides to go against her husband’s will to borrow the money for the loan, she forsakes her matrimonial bond, yet gains personal independence. Nora considers the loan “something to be proud and happy for” (1017). Yet, in essence, she is pleased with her ability to lie to her husband. Through this circumstance, Ibsen successfully reveals that a relationship built on ...

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Through his dealings with Nora’s role in society and his use of symbolism, Ibsen emphasizes in A Doll House that appearances are often deceiving. As Nora struggles with the façades in her life, she comes to the realization that she must leave her role as a housewife in order to gain “absolute freedom” (1060). Thus, Ibsen effectively portrays appearances as false because of Nora’s inability to remain in a relationship that represses her individualism. Through his ability to successfully expose deceiving façades, Ibsen creatively provides insight into the unattainable images of society in his masterpiece, A Doll House.

Works Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House. Trans. Rolf Fjelde. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. 2nd ed. Ed. John Schilb and John Clifford. Boston: Bedford, 2003. 1006-61.

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