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No Love Lost

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For a play about marriage A Doll’s House does not have much love in it. All of the characters claim to love each other, but are really concealing other emotions. The expectations of society have forced them into love that they do not feel. This false love is what causes them to fall apart in the end. The play is riddled with marriages that are born out of convenience or expectation rather than love. Every character only loves in ways that they are expected to, and only continue to love for convenience’s sake. There is no love in A Doll’s House.

Torvald treats Nora as a child, not an equal; he is not really in love with her. The most glaring examples of this are his pet names for her. He likes to think of her as a small, delicate creature that needs saving and protecting. Although this may seem like normal fare for a loving marriage, he takes it too far. Nora is not the type of woman that appreciates this sort of treatment, so it turns from affectionate to demeaning. He thinks that demeaning his wife is not only acceptable, but normal for a relationship saying “I wouldn’t be a man if your feminine vulnerability didn’t make you doubly attractive to me”(82). This is not a good base for their relationship, as it prevents him from giving Nora the kind of attention that she needs. She does not need the kind of doting attention that he gives her, she wants to talk as an equal. She want to be “bothered … with all sorts of problems [she] couldn’t possibly helped [him] to cope with”(84) as that would allow her to help her with his life, and give them the kind of relationship that Nora needs to survive. He does not love her, he loves treating her this way. As a matter of fact, Nora describes his relationship with her best, when she says...

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... “[he’ll] be able to find a way to redeem [himself] in people’s eyes”(69). He does not love her, he needs the social support. They have found each other after having being lost for many years, but it is not a romantic reunion. It is a calculation on both of their parts for their own greater individual happiness.

A Doll’s House contains many relationships, but all of them are bad. From convenience to infatuation, Ibsen’s work seems to be a manual on bad reasons to love someone. Every single character has some personalized version of love, and none of them seem to bear any resemblance to real love. Whether they find it convenient to love for respect or because love was their only choice at the time, none of them know real love. It is as though Ibsen wanted to show how some of the many reasons for love at the time were wrong and would lead to problems later in life.
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