Nora's Decision in Henrik Ibsen’s Play A Doll’s House

Better Essays
Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, illustrates the primary ideals of motherhood through protagonist Nora Helmer, who desires independence separate from her stifled 19th century lifestyle. Likewise, her decision to walk out on her husband and three small children is seen as a very controversial and scandalous act during this time period. Nora’s crisis emerges from her lack of a maternal figure during her childhood, her previous connotations of men, and ultimately her choice to abandon her loved ones for an independence all her own. Throughout Nora’s childhood, she consistently lacked a maternal figure. This is a key development in her crisis because a maternal figure is thought to provide the basis for future healthy relationships. Although Nora lived with her father, she was primarily raised by her nurse Anna Marie. Nora assures herself that just as Anna Marie raised her to become the woman that she is today, she will similarly raise her children if Nora should decide to leave them.

NORA: Dear old Anna Marie, you were such a good mother to me when I was a little girl. NURSE: Well, my poor little Nora had no other mother but me. NORA: And if my little ones had no other mother, I’m sure you’d – oh what nonsense I’m talking. Go in and see them –. Now I have to – you’ll see tomorrow how beautiful I will look (55).

This excerpt from Ibsen’s play illustrates Nora showing more concern for her beauty and appearance over playing and spending time with her children. It is evident that she tries to distance herself early on in the play because her mind is already certain of her impending departure from her family. The fact that Anna Marie raised Nora suggests that Nora feels it acceptable to not mother her...

... middle of paper ...

...nt is obligated to be honest and upstanding, because a parent’s immorality is passed on to their children like a disease. She truly believes that the nanny will be a better mother and that leaving her children is in their best interest. Nora’s understanding of the meaning of freedom evolves over the course of the play. In the first act, she believes that she will be totally “free” as soon as she has repaid her debt, because she will have the opportunity to devote herself fully to her domestic responsibilities. After Krogstad blackmails her, however, she reconsiders her conception of freedom and questions whether she is happy in Torvald’s house, subjected to his orders and edicts. By the end of the play, Nora seeks a new kind of freedom. She wishes to be relieved of her familial obligations in order to pursue her own ambitions, beliefs, and identity.
Get Access