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Literary Analysis Essay of Henrik Ibsen's 'A Doll's House'

0 August 11 2014, 14:42 in Literary Essay

Literary Analysis Essay of Henrik Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’

Henrik Ibsen is most credited for his work in the play ‘A Doll’s House’. The focal point of the piece comes from examining the role that women play in the story and how social standards continue to undermine their role. Focusing on the lives of the Helmer family and their close friends, Ibsen tries to piece together each character’s story to help readers understand the realities they had to live in. These then brings forward valuable themes that connects different acts altogether.

Looking closely, one of the important themes highlighted by the play by Ibsen comes from the sacrificial role that women play in the story. Specifically, the setting and social realities demonstrate how unfair women are treated. Even if this may seem to be the case, they try to do their best in order to help their families, in particular their husbands because they see it as their duty and responsibility. The classic example of this is Nora who did loaned money just to help her husband recover from illness and worked odd jobs just to make the necessary payments (Ibsen 1). Equally, this can also be seen with Christine’s character as she found it reasonable to marry another man instead of Krogstad because this act would make her family better off. All these sacrifices have left the women characters in the story vulnerable against men. For Mrs. Helmer, it is the blackmail of Krogstad while Christine the inability to marry the one she loves.

Another significant theme depicted by characters in the story is the relevance of obligations. Arguably, it remains to be an important facet shaping the life of characters in the story and remain to be prescriptive particularly in assuming the role of a husband or wife and parents to children. One example to show this is the background of Dr. Rank. He is in his latter stage of his tuberculosis and believes that the cause of this is due to the wrong deeds that his father did in the past. His father’s immorality became an instrument as to why he had contracted such disease and suffer on his behalf (Ibsen 1). This theme can also be seen with the Linde family particularly Torvald preventing his wife to go near her children after learning of her lies and deceit. He believes that Nora is a bad example that can corrupt their children into committing such acts (Liew 1). These instances remain to be important in seeking to understand why the characters responded to the situation and how Nora’s act in the end is a good way to redeem herself from her past mistakes.

Lastly, the play presents how appearances may often be misleading and not provide the actual truth of what is happening. This arguably remains to be seen in most of the characters in the story as their lives do not necessarily depict their identity. Seeing this, the approach utilized by Ibsen enables the characters to grow as the situations unravel to readers. It seeks to create the impression that amidst the initial appearances that these characters portray, there is a deeper story behind such action or response. For instance, the decision of Nora to leave Torvald comes from her realization that she was nothing more but a doll, which was particularly groomed to look like a specific individual. As Susanna Rustin argues, "she accuses her husband, and her father before him, of having used her as a doll, and declares herself unfit to be a wife or mother until she has learned to be herself” (1). This in turn enables readers to understand that contrary to the submissive nature of Nora, she has the strength and determination to overcome these social boundaries and find her true self.

Overall, Henrik Ibsen’s straightforward and realistic style allows the drama ‘A Doll’s House’ to depict the social inequality happening among women in the story. It emphasizes on how woman have sacrificed so much and yet still be considered inferior to their male counterparts. As readers further read the play, they uncover how appearances do not necessarily depict the truth but rather provide a contrasting story. Put together, Ibsen is able to create a powerful story that promotes the empowerment of women as well as criticize our ability to judge people based on appearances alone.

Works Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. ‘A Doll’s House’ Gutenberg.org. 13 Dec. 2008. Web. Accessed 4 August 2014.

Liew, Xiang. ‘Literary Analysis A Dolls House by Henrik Ibsen’ Humanities 360,26 Apr. 2008.  Web. Accessed 4 August 2014.

Rustin, Susanna. ‘Why A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen is more relevant than ever’ The Guardian,10 Aug. 2013. Web. Accessed 4 August 2014.


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