Humanism is an idea which focuses on the importance of oneself, rather than the importance of divine or supernatural matters. Humanism is often mistaken for feminism which is one of the major controversies of A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen. The idea of humanism becomes apparent through Nora’s interactions with Torvald, Torvald’s interactions with Nora, and Torvald’s interactions with other characters in the play. Many argue that A Doll House, is a feminist play due to its portrayal of the characters which emphasized many values of feminism, but in actuality the play addresses views on the value of dignity in one’s character and the need for one’s identity to be found based on positive choices which defines humanism. Ibsen was able to develop the idea that A Doll House was a humanist play through the way characters made decisions within their lives, even though within the play there were related notions of feminism.
Although Nora is secretive about the crime she committed, which is forging her father’s name in order to borrow money; she does it to save her husband. During Act I when Nora is speaking to Mrs. Linde about someday revealing to Torvald about the secret loan Nora exclaims: “One day I might, yes. Many years from now, when I’ve lost my looks a little. Don’t laugh. I mean, of course, a time will come when Torvald is not as devoted to me, not quite so happy when I dance for him, and dress for him, and play with him.” (Act I, pg. 12). This quotation shows that even early on in the play Nora understands the reality of her marriage, and her existence to Torvald. Therefore, Act I is merely an introduction to the overall overarching theme of independence. Act I shows the obedient side of Nora, until later scenes when she reveals her independence. Torvald attempts to oppress his wife, but his actions do not stop Nora’s independent thoughts from forming.
Torvald would never have thought she were capable of it, since during that era it was unrealistic of women to leave their houses but rather put up with the difficulties they faced. Ibsen highlights society's domineering outlooks of marriage and the interactions of two people naïvely pretending to be in love. Throughout the play Ibsen reveals the fragile attributes of his characters to help enhance the play-like nature of their relationship, the role of women, and Nora's course of self-discovery.
It is Nora as an individual cheated of her true rights that the dramatists first depicts, for her marriage, as she discovers in the crisis, has been merely material and not that spiritual tie Ibsen insists upon as the only happy on in this relationship. (Huneker 64)
Ibsen’s character Nora in A Doll’s House, shows gradual development throughout the play to support his theme that above all else, you are human; even in marriage both parties should be given the equal opportunities, rights and respect. While Nora may at first seem happy with her life inside her “doll house”, she begins to recognize that she must find herself, and stop being a toy in the lives of men.
Torvald is seen as a loving husband who cares for his wife, but when he is faced with an issue threatening his social image he becomes the man he really is underneath his playful and happy demeanor which is just an act just benefiting him. When Torvald opens the letter, and finds out he was in a situation that can potentially harm his image he tells his wife Nora “This thing has to be covered up, whatever it costs. As for you and me, things will seem just like before. For public consumption only, of course. You’ll stay in the house that is understood.” (Page 764). The lengths Torvald is willing to go too just to protect his social image is unbelievable. He immediately abandons his wife
Nora has always been contented with her being Torvald’s “little featherbrain.” As the play progresses, Nora eventually figures out that Torvald doesn’t genuinely love her. She expects Torvald to be her protector and stand up against people that criticise her criminal acts. Nora also assumes that Torvald would have offered to take the blame for the crime. He failed the test of love and devotion by mocking her instead of providing help. Therefore, she becomes more rebellious by using imperative speech with Torvald instead of her innocent and childlike language. As the play reaches its end, Nora becomes totally independent from Torvald and talks to him from an equal standpoint, rather than communicating as niece and grandpa or daughter and daddy. Additionally, she no longer views him as the leading person in her life because she now apprehends that she hasn’t been herself throughout their marriage. As she defends her position on her actions she states, “When I look back on it now… I lived by performing tricks for you, Torvald” (Ibsen, 1230). It is clear to her now that she has been nothing more than a means of entertainment to her husband as he would have her dance for him and perform other silly acts.
In act two, Nora is slowly beginning to understand Trovald's true persona. Nora, maybe for the first time in her life, asks Torvald for a favor, to not fire an employee. He replies to her by asking "Do you suppose I am going to make myself ridiculous before my whole staff, to let people think that I am a man to be swayed by all sorts of outside influence"(Act II). This rhetorical question reveals Torvald's main concern of appearance. His greater concern for the image rather than Nora displays the lack of love in the relationship. It contradicts Nora's courageous act of borrowing money for Torvald, despite the government, for the sake of her love. This argument leads Nora to
As Mrs. Linde and Nora continue with their conversation, Nora begins to question whether Torvald does love her. Nora begins to tell her story of how she was the one to raise the money for the trip to Italy and not Torvald. She reveals how she went to Krogstad and asked for a loan to help pay for the trip. When Mrs. Linde asked if Torvald knew any of this information Nora replied, "He's so strict on that subject ... with all his masculine pride how painfully humiliating for him if he ever found out he was in debt to me" (1194). Nora did not feel comfortable telling Torvald about the predicament because she did not want to offend him. Torvald is set on complying by his morals and the fact that Nora disobeyed them would dishonor her
In preparation for Nora's dance at the party, we again see Ibsen showing us Torvald's and Nora's roles. "I can't get anywhere without your help."(Ibsen 91) "Direct me. Teach me, the way you always have."(Ibsen 91) Nora's lines reflect the "costume" that Torvald expects her to wear (and which she wears obligingly), that of the meek, subservient, childlike wife.
The character of Nora goes through the dramatic transformation of a kind and loving housewife, to a desperate and bewildered woman, whom will ultimately leave her husband and everything she has known. Ibsen uses both the characters of Torvald and Nora to represent the tones and beliefs of 19th century society. By doing this, Ibsen effectively creates a dramatic argument that continues to this day; that of feminism.
Ibsen uses Torvald’s study to symbolize male dominance and superiority in order to connect to the theme of social oppression towards women. The first scene develops this symbol through Nora and Torvald conversation in the study. Nora enters his study to ask for spending money, but she must perform childish tricks as payment.
In “A Doll’s House,” Ibsen presents us with the drama of Torvald and Nora Helmer, a husband and wife who have been married for eight years and whose lives are controlled by the society in which they live. Their relationship, although seemingly happy, is marred by the constraints of social attitudes around them and their perceived gender roles. Creating even more conflict is the thin veil of deceit between them, which inevitably breaks them apart.
In the play “A Doll House” by Henrik Ibsen the story focuses on the gender differences between a man and woman. One way Ibsen display feminism in A Doll House is through the relationship of the two main characters Torvald and his wife Nora. Nora and Torvald to have the perfect life, however behind closed doors it isn’t as it seems. The play begins with a happily married couple and ends with a woman wanting to be her own human being. Nora has been treated like child throughout the play by Torvald, she finally decides she has other duties such as herself that are just as important as everyone else. Through the play Ibsen provides the readers with insight how society views women. During this particular generation men were much higher ranking in society than women, women were not viewed as individuals but as shadows of their men. Ibsen provides many examples throughout the play how women were treated less than men.