Free Essays on A Doll's House: Manipulation

Free Essays on A Doll's House: Manipulation

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Manipulation in A Doll House


The mark of a mature person is the ability to make rational decisions for oneself.  Complicated choices are what make maturity so hard.  Sometimes, even good intentions can lead to a bad decision.  In Henrik Ibsen's A Doll House, decision-making is clouded by the manipulation caused by certain characters.  Blackmail, trickery, and tyranny, each a form of manipulation are all used to make seemingly positive decisions by the characters.  These decisions lead to complicated situations for these characters where nothing is gained.  Manipulation is a form of control over another person without either their consent or knowledge.  Examining Torvald, Krogstad, and Nora, one can see that manipulation of others leads to irrational decisions for them. 

      Torvald is the typical husband of the time of the play.  He tries to control his wife and expect her to submit to him.  He manipulates her through many different ways.  First, he calls her pet names such as "little lark" (3) and "squirrel" (4) and speaks to her in a condescending tone, as if she is a child.  He then tries to control her habits so he will not let her eat sweets or spend too much money.  In fact, all the money she gets comes from him.  He demands that she is subservient and treats her as almost a dog later on in the play.  At the end, when Nora's secret is out, he lashes out at her and kicks her out of the house.  When he wants her back after he realizes that he will no longer get into trouble for what she did, she does not want to come back, he finally realizes that she does not love him anymore and that his manipulation of her is over.  This leaves him in a pickle because he now has to take care of his children without Nora, hardly a good position for him. 

      Krogstad is different from Torvald because he is not as well off economically and socially and this leads him to try an extremer form of manipulation.  Krogstad is desperate to keep his job at the bank and tries to get Nora to secure the job with her husband through blackmail.  Since he was once found to be forging documents, his reputation has been flaky, so in order to regain his reputation for his sons: "For their sake I must win back as much respect as I can in the town" (22), he needs to keep his job at the bank.

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  When Nora forged her father's signature after he died Krogstad found out and he is now using that information against her to make sure that his job is secure.  The only way for him to secure his job is to use a less then accept method of persuasion.  Nora does not want to be caught by her husband so she must accept this deal and she knows this. 

      Even though other characters are usually manipulating Nora, even she can manipulate others.  Dr. Rank is in love with Nora and his lust for her gives her the upper hand in this situation.  She controls him by flirting with him.  This behavior may not seem as bad as blackmail or the way Torvald treats Nora, but it led to something that was more unsettling.  Nora wants Dr. Rank to die and because he is in love with her, he would give her all of his savings in his will as shown here: "The lovely Mrs. Nora Helmer is to have all I possess paid over to her at once in cash" (14).  She wants to control their relationship until it gets to that point.  Of course, when Dr. Rank shows he cannot fulfill this illusion, it is ruined for Nora and she sees what a tramp she has been.  The image Nora sees of herself is not what she had hoped she would become. 

      In all three cases of deception outlined here, not one ended up well for the manipulator; in the end, they only hurt themselves.  Krogstad lost his job, Torvald lost his wife, and Nora lost her innocence.  In addition, whoever they were trying to control got what they wanted.  Nora lost her dependence to both Torvald and Krogstad and with regard to Dr. Rank and Nora; they never saw each other again.  In each case, nothing positive was gained for the manipulator, only grief or shame.  This grief and shame is indicative of the immature and deceitful things that they did for selfish reasons.  The manipulation of others is not something noble or good; it should be avoided because it only ends in more angst.  
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