Essay about The Plot in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

Essay about The Plot in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

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The play A Doll House (1879), by Henrik Ibsen, has a realistic feel that compels the reader to identify with the main characters and the situation that they find themselves facing. The wife, Nora, is in all but one scene, and nearly all the scenes occur in a single room. She is the main character, and it is her unraveling and self-discovery that the reader is spectator to.

Act I begins by introducing Nora Helmer. She enters the room carrying packages and eating macaroons. Nora's husband, Torvald, enters the living room as Nora quickly hides her sweets from him. This interaction sets the world of the play, acting as the prologue. We learn that Torvald has forbidden her to eat macaroons, or any sweets, in order to keep her teeth nice. He does so as a parent admonishes a child instead of as a husband speaking to his wife.

The inciting event follows quickly. Nora shows Torvald the presents that she bought for their children for Christmas. He calls her a spendthrift and then accuses her of eating sweets. Nora lies, denying that she has, allows the reader to understand that she lies to her husband when it suits her. This is a small lie and a small secret but the stage has been set for bigger untruths and bigger secrets.

Mrs. Linde, a childhood friend of Nora's, and Dr. Rank, Torvald's best friend, both arrive at the Helmer home at the same time. Dr. Rank retires to Torvald's study, and Mrs. Linde reacquaints with Nora. The two have not seen one another in about a decade. Nora acts very much like a naïve child throughout the conversation with her friend. She tells Mrs. Linde about Torvald's approaching appointment to bank manager and expresses how relieved she is that they will soon have all the money they...


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...ds. Torvald is elated; he laughs out loud and smiles hugely. He tells Nora that he forgives her and that their lives will be the same as they had been before.

At the end of the play, the epilogue, Nora explains to Torvald "The way I am now, I'm no wife for you." He says he can make himself over into a new man, and she agrees, that if his `doll' is taken away from him, he may. She picks up her overnight bag. Torvald begs; he wants to know how it can ever be different. Nora replies that if the `most wonderful thing' were to happen it might be possible for them to have a `true' marriage, one in which they were equal partners, and walks out the door. The sound of the slamming door is the final sound and signifies Nora's decision to leave the safe haven of her husband's home, to stop being a doll for the men in her life, and instead to become her own woman.

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