A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen is a play based in the fact of illusion as the characters live within the illusions each has created for themselves. Nora accepts the role of the adoring wife; Torvald accepts his role as the perfect husband. Krogstad is the perfect enabler and surrogate father. However, just as the old TV show "Tales From The Darkside" taught us, everything has a darker side that is eventually exposed to the light. In this case, it is the truth behind the illusion of the Doll's House.
Realism is a dramatic art form that dates from near the late 19th Century and is specifically noted with the plays of Ibsen such as A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler. Almost all theater witnessed before Ibsen's plays is historically considered non-realistic.
Nora, the main female character, is controlled by the illusion of what a 'good' wife is supposed to be. She is cooed into submission by her doting husband Torvald, who refers to her by animal names as if she were his pet. Torvald is stereotypical of precisely what a good husband should be as placed within the context of the time in which the play was written.
Ibsen wished to speak to the life and the concerns of ordinary middle-class citizens. This was because they were quickly becoming the majority class politically and economically. The internal state of the family was changing as men's and women's roles began to take on new social indications.
Krogstad is an enabler to Nora and gives the illusion of protection as if he were a surrogate father to her. Nora was required to forge her father's signature in order to get the loan because women could not own property outside of their husband. Therefore, they had no collateral with which to borrow money. This was built on the illusion that women did not need money apart from their husbands. The illusion was that a married man and wife was one equal cohesive unit unto themselves. Nora breaks with that illusion by f...