The Theme of Escape in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

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Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”, a tragic play set in the late 1800’s, is one women’s realization of her life as merely that of a doll living out her life as an object in a world dominated by the males around her. Ibsen points the reader in the right direction to the deeper meaning of the play in the title. The title “A Doll’s House”, a metaphor, causes the reader or watcher of the play to think what deeper meaning lies ahead. The play takes place in the living room of Torvald and Nora Helmer’s apartment on Christmas Eve. Nora, the protagonist, returns home from shopping for Christmas presents and is playfully greeted by her husband Torvald. It is quickly revealed that things aren’t exactly what they appear and all may not be just right at the Helmer’s residence as evidenced by the following lines: HELMER: [calls out from room] Is that my little lark twittering out there? NORA: [busy opening some of the parcels] Yes, it is! HELMER: Is my squirrel bustling about? NORA: Yes! HELMER: When did my squirrel come home? NORA: Just now. [puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth] Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought. (Act 1) This dialogue is more reminiscent of a father and young child than of a husband and wife. The realistic theme of women’s treatment by the men in their lives during this era is shown by the interaction of the couple. The dominating nature of Nora’s husband, which is shown by the example text above, in which Nora has to hide her macaroons from her husband, and the almost childlike manner in which Torvald treats Nora, continues throughout the play. The antagonist, Nils Krogstad, a lawyer and bank clerk at the bank where Torvald is employed and has just been promoted, adds te... ... middle of paper ... ...on to stand on her own two feet for the first time in her life was evidenced when she replied to Torvald’s offer of assistance, “Nothing – nothing” (Act 3). It is a bit ironic the similarity, although with the gender roles reversed, of Rhett’s Butler’s own realization epitomized in the famous ending of the 1939 classic film “Gone with the Wind”, in which Rhett exclaims, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. Both Rhett and Nora slammed the door on a painful part of their lives with anticipation of happier times ahead. Works Cited Gone with the Wind. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell; screenplay by Sidney Howard. Warner Brothers, 1939. Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House.” Literature and the writing process. Ed. McMahan, Elizabeth, Susan Day, and Robert Funk. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2007. (1038 -1089).
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