Flaws Portrayed Within the Helmer Marriage in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House

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Marriage is a union between two people who communicate and love each other. A love so pure and unconditional that only in death can they part. In a Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, Nora and Torvald appear to portray the perfect marriage. However, throughout the play flaws within the Helmer marriage are exposed: a lack of communication, love and selflessness. A relationship based on lies and play-acting; A marriage condemned by the weight of public opinion.

Nora and Torvald lack one of the key elements needed to make a marriage work. Good communication allows you to better understand your partners needs and to unite as a team to solve problems or comply. When Torvald got sick and the only thing to save his life was to move to the south; Nora found a way to procure the money and forged her father’s signature to obtain the loan. The most heroic action of her life is an unforgivable crime in the eyes of society. Nora has kept this a secret from Torvald. “A man who has such strong opinions about these things! And besides, how painfully and humiliating it would be for Torvald, with his manly independence, to know that he owed me anything! It would upset our mutual relations altogether; our beautiful happy home would no longer be what it is now.”(12) To pay back the loan, Nora has worked without her husband’s consent, staying up late nights copying, to earn money and saving a bit from what Torvald gives her. “Whenever Torvald has given me money for new dresses and such things I have never spent more than half of it; I have always bought the simplest and cheapest things.”(13) Without trust, honesty can never be obtained. There was poor communication throughout their entire marriage and only at the end, after eight years of being married d...

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... I am a reasonable human being just as you are--or, at all events, that I must try and become one. I know quite well, Torvald, that most people would think you are right and that views of that kind are to be found in books; but I can no longer content myself with what most people say or with what is found in books. I must think over things for myself and get to understand them.”(68) Nora chooses to walk down a difficult path, rejecting society’s norm and facing the unknown on her own. Nora embarks on a journey of self discover.

Henrik Ibsen uses his play, A Doll’s House, to challenge the status of the typical marriage and question feminist equality. Ibsen makes an example of the Helmer marriage by exposing social problems within society. The play ends without any solutions, however, Ibsen does offer women possibilities. Nora is a heroine among women, then and now.

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