The Masquerade in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

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In A Doll House, Ibsen presents us with Torvald and Nora Helmer, a husband and wife who have lived together for eight years and still don't know each other. This rift in their relationship, caused in part by Torvald's and Nora's societally-induced gender roles and also by the naivete of both parties to the fact that they don't truly love one another, expands to a chasm by the end of the play, ultimately causing Nora to leave Helmer. Throughout most of the play, Ibsen continually has his characters prepare for a masquerade ball that takes place at their friends' house. We are first introduced to the ball in Act Two. "...[T]here's going to be a costume party tomorrow evening at the Stenborgs'... Torvald wants me to go as a Neapolitan peasant girl and dance the tarantella that I learned in Capri,"(Ibsen 74) Nora says in a conversation with her friend Mrs. Linde. Ibsen has embedded quite a bit in these few lines. First of all, the whole "costume" theme is a metaphor for the "costumes" and "masks" that both Nora and Torvald wear in their everyday lives, making it ironic that Nora would need to dress up at all; she is already in costume. Aside from the problems in their marriage, Ibsen has also slyly revealed to us the infrastructure of the Helmer marriage; Nora does as Tovarld says. Nora is going as what Torvald wants and doing what Torvald wants her to do. This point is further reinforced in the next two lines. In response to Mrs. Linde's question, "...[A]re you giving a whole performance?" Nora replies, "Torvald says yes, I should."(Ibsen 74) Again, Nora's opinion never enters the picture. Her life revolves around Torvald's demands. In the same passage, Ibsen also plants a bit of irony. Seeing Nora's tattered and... ... middle of paper ... ... as society's view towards women in Ibsen's time. With his effective use of the masquerade ball and the circumstances surrounding it, Ibsen creates not only Nora and Torvald; he creates the destruction of their marriage, as well. Works Cited and Consulted: Clurman, Harold. 1977. Ibsen. New York: Macmillan. Heiberg, Hans. 1967. Ibsen. A Portrait of the Artist. Coral Gables, Florida: University of Miami. Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll's House. Dover Thrift Edition, 1992 Northam, John. 1965. "Ibsen's Search for the Hero." Ibsen. A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Shaw, Bernard. "A Doll's House Again." Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1979. Sturman, Marianne Isben's Plays I, A Doll's House Cliffs Notes, 1965. Thomas, David. Henrik Ibsen. New York: Grove, 1984
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