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A Doll’s House

A Doll’s House is an ideal title for Henrik Ibsen’s play. Torvald Helmer does indeed dominate his wife Nora like a doll. He talks to her condescendingly like one would to a child, but beneath the exterior of sweet-talk and pet names, he is a man who controls his wife’s life. There is something sinister about him. When Nora brings home her Christmas shopping, he scolds her for spending too much money. The way he says it, though he calls her his “little songbird,” it sounds like a veiled threat not to misbehave. Torvald treats her like a child, believing her to be like one. He thinks women do not have the sense and intelligence to properly handle matters such as money. So he believes Nora to be just as foolish, and treats her as such. When he gives Nora more money after reprimanding her, he is really manipulating her to amuse himself. He humors her and she is happy, like when a dog excitedly wags its tail when it is given a piece of food after waiting a long time. After all, he does call her animal names, which serves to dehumanize her. In one scene he calls her his “prized possession.” Through all his actions, Torvald keeps Nora under his thumb, completely possessing and minimizing her like an object. Nora is very naïve and child-like, of course, since her husband never lets her grow up and be independent. She seems care-free and frivolous, as though being a homemaker, wife and mother is a game, the way little girls play House. When the nurse brings in the children, Nora only briefly talks to them about how they played outside, and we do not see them anymore after that. Not once is Nora shown doing something motherly or wifely; instead she is chatting up old friends, coming back from shopping, and getting ready for a costume party. Nora is basically a naïve woman who does not take life seriously and gets herself into trouble when she tries to do something on her own. She lives in a fantasy world sustain...

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A Doll’s House. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:58, September 01, 2014, from