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The play A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, is concerned with the conflict between social lie and duty. This play is about women's need for independence and her obligations to family and society. We can easily recognize sacrifice and guiltlessness in the play. One can follow a theme through the play by looking at Nora -- the heroine.
Who is Nora Helmer? She is the beloved wife of Torvald Helmer. They have a very nice, cozy house, and they have three kids. They have been married for eight years. They have lovely friends. Torvald was just promoted for a higher position in the bank. Isn't it a lovely picture? This is what we see in the beginning of the play. But when Torvald started to talk, we can feel that something is wrong with this picture. "My little songbird," "my little squirrel," and even "my little featherbrain" - that is what Torvald calls his wife. He treats Nora as a child. He thinks that she is stupid, and she must be controlled. Torvald controls her housekeeping budget and how much she can spend on certain purchases. He doesn't know, and he doesn't want to know that Nora, herself, can earn some money. Instead, he expects her always be dependent on his salary.
Too bad that Nora was able to realize only after eight years that she lives with a hypocrite. After he discovered that Nora forged her father's signature on the loan bond, he nullifies their marriage. He doesn't care that Nora did this because she loves him very much, and she did this to save his life. He is the man of "honor," "Nora, I would gladly work for your sake. But no man can be expected to sacrifice his honor, even for the person he loves." And she answers him, "Millions of women have done it" (Ibsen 979).
When a woman loves as Nora does, nothing else matters. She will sacrifice herself for the family. Her purpose in life is to be happy for her husband and children; to dance and to play. Torvald doesn't know what is real relationship means. And when he sees that because of Nora he needs to sacrifice his reputation and his career, he gave up. He wouldn't take the blame for her. Only when he finds out that Nora won't be charged, he forgives her, and tries to keep her.
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Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll's House. Literature and the Writing Process. Ed: Elizabeth McMahan. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1999. 931-980