Nora's Discovery of Self in Ibsen's A Doll's House

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Nora's Discovery of Self in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House

Ibsen's play, "A Doll House," involves a woman who begins the play as a common housewife and through a series of joyous occurrences and catastrophes becomes a self-liberating woman. Nora Helmer is transformed and decides to abandon her family and home in search of her true self. She arrives at this point because of several factors. Her refusal to submit to her husband and her self-realization is brought on by the way she has been taught to act by her husband and her father, and the contradicting demands the situations that she has had to deal with gave her. Her true devotion to herself is discovered because of the false devotion she felt towards her husband and her role in her family. In "A Doll House," Henrik Ibsen uses the character of Nora to show that the way in which a woman is treated and her assumed role in society can actually lead to her discovery of her own true humanity.

Though it seems contradictory, it is actually Torvald Helmer, Nora's husband, who cause Nora to refuse to submit to him. Torvald holds a very low opinion of Nora's ability to handle things for herself, and allows her almost no responsibility relating to the family outside of the trivial things in the home. His incessant use of his pet names, "songbird" and "squirrel" for example, trivialize her place in their home. However, when Torvald becomes ill, it becomes Nora's responsibility to provide for his recovery. Of course, Torvald, mustn't know anything about Nora borrowing money for his sake, which the situation demands. So Nora is thrown into a dilemma. Here her first decision to disobey her husband's wishes, in point of fact for the sake of her love for hi...

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...e would long ago have told him about her troubles." (294)

Works Cited:

Gray, Ronald. "Henrik Ibsen." European Writers: The Romantic Century. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1985. Vol. 7, pp.1428-1430

Hardwick, Elizabeth. "A Doll's House." Drama Criticism. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1992. Vol. 2, pp. 294-295

Harris, Laurie Lanzen. "Henrik Ibsen." Characters in 20th Century Literature. New York: Gale Research Inc., 1990. p. 183

Huneker, James. "Ibsen." Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1979. Vol. 2, pp.222-223

Ibsen, Henrik. "A Doll House." Perrine's Literature. Forth Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1998. pp. 967-1023

Works Consulted

Shaw, Bernard. "A Doll's House Again." Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1979. Vol. 8, p. 143
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