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Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House

In Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House the main character, Nora Helmer, undergoes a transformation and leaves her husband's house. But the change that takes place in Nora is not so much a change in Nora's character as it is a change in her knowledge of her husband, of herself, and of the nature of their relationship. Her new knowledge raises fundamental questions about everything Nora had believed. As she is leaving Nora tells Torvald that she "must think things over for [her]self and get to understand them" (65). In their final conversation Nora explains that the knowledge in books, the words of religion, and the rules of the law all seem to be in opposition to the basic motivations behind her actions. She cannot go on living as she did because she sees that the ideal that she lived by was not shared by her husband. Whether this was because Helmer was a flawed person or because Nora had been mistaken in her beliefs is the thing she needs to discover.

Nora's basic beliefs are shaken by the fact that her husband does not even think of doing the "wonderful thing" that she expected (66). Nora explains to Torvald that she firmly believed that when he received Krogstad's letter he would accept the blame for her actions and say, "I am the guilty one" (66). She had no doubt of this and was, therefore, preparing to drown herself in order to prevent her husband from making such a sacrifice for her sake. She believed him literally when Torvald said, "I have often wished that you might be threatened by some great danger, so that I might risk my life's blood, and everything, for your sake" (58). To Nora this was confirmation of an ideal she thought they shared and Torvald's words give her the courage to tell him to open the letter and then to prepare for her own death.

Thus the revelation of Torvald's true character does not cause a change in Nora's character. She has already committed the necessary act. She did not hesitate to borr...

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Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:40, November 30, 2021, from