Nora Helmer in Ibsen's A Doll House Essay

Nora Helmer in Ibsen's A Doll House Essay

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In 1879, Henrik Ibsen published the play A Dolls House. However, to much of his displeasure the portrayal of the third act was considered erroneous to critics and audiences of that time frame. This controversy centered on the play’s conclusion in Nora's decision to leave her marriage and abandon her children. Critics labeled this decision appalling and unrealistic, since at that time in history no true woman would ever make such a choice. This uproar forced Ibsen to write a second ending where Nora instead decides that the children need her more than she needs her freedom. Thus, leaving critics and audiences contently satisfied. Since then, though times have changed and ideas and beliefs of the past have been altered, maybe the critics had it right about Nora’s departure. Perhaps Ibsen’s original ending is better left unsaid.
Therefore, other than the alternative ending that Ibsen produced, how might the character of Nora deal with the situation at hand differently, based on what can be determined about her from the text? For starters, how about confronting the title of the story? Just who is the Doll? Many may claim that the doll is automatically Nora, for the reasons that she has been molded by her father and then toyed around with by her husband. To those individuals, Nora may seem like she is the victim, the poor little girl who can not comprehend who she is, the sweet “sky-lark” who had to leave her family for the findings of her true inner being…Or on a different note, Nora is the master and the controller of all that is functioning in the Helmer household. Although her husband, Torvald, may refer to her as a sky-lark, squirrel, or singing bird, it can be viewed in the text that Nora does not object to these remarks but r...


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...a man who loves her and abandoning her children. Point in taking: Nora served no sense of accomplishment and only declared her egotism in a single selfish act.
In the end, Nora’s greatest strength became her greatest weakness and it lead to her vindicated defeat. If only Nora used her powerful gift of control to step up to society instead of blocking it out, would she been able to save herself, her family, and her characters reputation as a feminine heroine, instead of a controversial role. But perhaps the controversy over Nora’s character is what we cherish so deeply because it is beyond our understanding. The idea that she is someone who is eternally captivating but can never fully be defined completely.

Works Cited
Kennedy, X.J. and Gioia, Dana. Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006. 778-843.

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