A Dolls House by Henrik Ibsen

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This paper illustrates that the title A Doll’s House sets the stage: we are about to enter a place where manipulation is not necessarily negative, it just is what we will see. Nora and Helmer are playing at being adults. he plays with her as if she is a doll, and she responds in a doll-like manner, agreeing with (and pandering to) his thoughts and feelings without interjecting her own. Nora has not created her world. it has been created for her, from a time long before she was married. Nora comments toward the end of the play that she has been the plaything of both her father and her husband, that each of these men arranged the world to their own liking and both of them liked having her in it—the construct of Nora, an idealized shell, not someone with feelings and opinions. She has been coddled and loved, certainly, but not acknowledged or honored by the two most important men in her life. Because Helmer has spent a great amount of energy doing what he thinks will please her, he is shocked and angered when she comes up with the idea that she has done nothing with her life, nothing she can claim as her own. Helmer’s intentions, while misguided, do arise out of an idealized love for Nora. He does what he does because he thinks it will please her—at least until he runs up against disagreement. Though the title sets us up to enter a fantasy world, on its surface the play portrays a realistic couple engaged in the normal actions of married people. Well, normal if having a nurse and a maid in the house is normal. at the time the play was written, this situation was more common. A Doll’s House was written just as the era of idealism in literature was coming to an end and so Ibsen uses realistic elements and interactions between the characters. Viewers (and readers) in 2009 are quite used to seeing realism. in fact, we have taken pure realism and turned it back into the theater through our fascination with reality television and non-fiction stories.