A Doll’s House is a play detailing the perceptions of make-believe and real-life situations. A line presenting fiction and reality become blurred in the same way in this piece from Henrik Ibsen. This play written in 1879 has fantasy and reality classifying as blurred because the two generalizations intertwine. Act One and Act Three are the main parts of focus in this play that the readers should be aware of in this play. They show the two different types of Nora, the main character like many interesting literary works, including this one, there are two sides to the main character. In this case, the sides that are presented the doll and human, the doll and human categories are a metaphor for fiction and reality. The act in which we see Nora as a human is in Act Three.
Personification is a huge factor in deciding which Nora is the real Nora. The characterization of representation that is shown in A Doll’s House is comparing a doll to a human. Having feelings are critical to being a human and in Act Three Nora ends up feeling unappreciated for her efforts to keep everything in a perfect state, reaches her breaking point and releases herself from the metaphorical doll’s house. The only question she would have to ask herself is, why would she stay with someone who does not want to appreciate anything she has to offer or the effort she would give not to hurt anyone she loves? The world that she once has known comes crashing down on her and now she realizes that this is the perfect time to move on with her life. Her choosing to leave also is a representation of showing her true colors and not willing to be controlled anymore.
The first distinction that can be displayed as to why the Nora in Act Three is the real Nora is when Torvald tries to apologize and reconcile with her. Ibsen states, “All over! All over! Nora, will you never think of me again?” (Ibsen 45). He realizes he made a mistake and although she will not be coming back, at least he wants to know if she will keep him in her good graces and have thoughts about his well-being. There is no influence on her decision to leave her old life behind. In Act One, she gets referred to as a child, and in Act Three she is shown to be an adult. Act One has examples that show her viewed as a “squirrel” and “Skylark” (Ibsen 828-830). An example of Nora being referred to as a child is when Torvald gives her money. Ibsen asserts that “What are little people called that are always wasting money?” (Ibsen 829) Prior judgment and greeting can be used to justify that such names as those would not be appropriate to use if one would be talking to or greeting an adult only a child. The term “little people” that Ibsen uses also would not be used to just talking to an adult this classification can only be justified when referring to a child or children.
The second example as to why Nora in Act Three is the real Nora finally accepts herself for what she is and comes to understand that she will never be good enough for Torvald and her children. Ibsen asserts that “I won’t go to the children. I know they are in better hands than mine. As I now am, I can be nothing to them.” (Ibsen 45). Nora realizes she is nothing and will always be nothing, but she knows that whoever will be taking care of the children will do a great job. She also realizes that the marriage they are in is just for show. Torvald does not care for Nora as a person and their marriage is just used for social status and to build his reputation. When Nora tries her hardest to protect Torvald’s well-being, his initial reaction is not one that is good. For example, Ibsen acknowledges that “Now you have destroyed all of my happiness. You have ruined my future. It is horrible to think of! I am in the power of an unscrupulous man.” (Ibsen 880). When the revelation comes out that Torvald’s only happiness is with the bank and not with Nora, that is the straw that broke the camel’s back and the moment that ended their marriage. The tables have turned, and the roles have switched for Torvald and Nora. Now Torvald is the one who is living like a doll and in a fantasy world and Nora is the one who sees the real world as is. Torvald does not seem to understand that there is still a future for him and Nora. The bank and his career with the bank is the only thing that matters to him. Ibsen illustrates that “And I must sink to such miserable depths because of a thoughtless woman.” (Ibsen 880). Torvald’s clinical reaction to the letter is unfair because Nora would be the one taking all the risk if she so happened to get caught forging her signature for the money that went to Torvald’s recovery.
The events in the story take place over a few days but for Nora that will be all that is needed for her to mature completely and understand that this is not her place in life. There is a complete shift in her behavior from Act One. Based on the interactions between her and her friend Mrs. Linde, she realizes that her life is not all that she thinks. An argument can be made that speculates that she is going through a mid-life crisis and understands that this is not how she wants to live. She is not friendly, open minded or kindhearted towards Torvald at all. The new behavior is shown to be that of cruel and disheartening, she is now rendered cold and is looking forward to the new chapter in her life. (Templeton 2).
The first thing that needs to be established for Nora to be real is that she needs to identify and recognize that she is a human being. Her old ways and the way she used to live are not safe and healthy for her to live as a human. If she wants to be a human, separate herself from her old life and show everyone who the real Nora is then human-like qualities need be acknowledged and Nora needs to handle her fair share of responsibilities (Lee 622). Nora knows one type of lifestyle and no matter how long she took to figure out this kind of lifestyle was not for her does not matter. The type of lifestyle that she lived under for the first half of her life was one that was very controlling and that she was not able to make most if any of her decisions in the process. What matters now is that Nora finds herself and lives with two mindsets, happy and confident. Her children will be taken care of, so all that she needs to focus on is her.
Secondly, there is known evidence that Ibsen wrote this play on the topic of feminism. To sum up what this is socially is that this is women empowerment and fighting for the same rights that men have and the same social level they are on. Templeton states that “It is simply not true, then, that Ibsen was not interested in feminism” (Templeton 37). “It is also not true that “there is no indication that Ibsen was thinking of writing a feminist play when he first began to work seriously on A Doll House in the summer of 1879” (Valency 150) (Templeton 37). Feminism is shown in the main acts of this play, Act One, and Act Three. Act One shows feminism by describing how Nora is forging her name for the money to make sure that Torvald is getting the treatment he needs to recover from overworking himself (Ibsen 847). Nora is showing feminism because of the fact the woman in this situation is handling things and looking out for her family’s best interests. Although, Nora has no job and no place handling the children her attempt at making sure that Torvald gets better needs to count for something. The feminism in Act Three comes out when Nora decides on her own that she needs to start over and find her place in this world.
In Act One, Nora is getting everything ready for Christmas and New Year’s. In her mind, she thinks that everything will be alright and that there will be nothing to worry about. She wants to have a good week now that her family finally has some good fortune and breathing room. Unfortunately for her, her past catches up with her and facing her problems is something she will wind up doing at the end of Act Three. Being honest and having integrity come in to play here because finally Nora develops a conscious for herself and stands up for what she believes in. She opts not to stay and live under someone else’s command anymore and just takes whatever flak she gets for the actions she makes. She does not want to be part of a toxic relationship anymore.
The third observation that shows a difference in between the Act One Nora and the Act Three Nora is the motivation for money. In Act One, we see a Nora who only cares about money and wants good things in her life to happen. Ibsen points out, “Yes, Torvald, we may be a wee bit more reckless now, mayn’t we? Just a tiny wee bit! You are going to have a big salary and earn lots and lots of money.” (Ibsen 828). Here Nora wants to add to her doll house and is not thinking about the repercussions that will happen if Torvald goes through with whatever they end up getting. In Act Three all bets off when money comes in to the picture, she does not care about money and has no interest in money. Real people with good intentions and positivity do not care about money. If anything, those types of people will put their integrity first and that is what Nora shows in Act Three. Nora comes out and pursues a new mindset when she fully understands that Torvald initially does not know why she decided to make the decisions she made for him.
Finally, we have the aspects of eating and that they play a part in determining which Nora is really Nora. As Stephanie Pocock Boeninger states “In both A Doll’s House and The Wild Duck, the symbolic and the physical significances of food overlap on the stage, as Ibsen’s theatrical realism creates a space in which material and symbolic realms coexist” (Boeninger 455). An observation that can be noted as significant to back up this statement is that there is food only showing up in one act out of the three. When Nora eats the macaroons in Act One, there is the symbolism that this is the fake Nora because of the fact in the Act Three there is no notion of Nora having eaten or eating anything. Throughout the whole act, there is nothing, but straight realism presented to the audience.
Everything happens for a reason and will only provide good results if get handled with care. Also, giving positivity to them is a factor in making sure the choices Nora makes are well and beneficial. That is where Nora is at mentally, as she wants nothing but the best for her and she will figure out what her life wants to be eventually. Another thing that is on her mind as the days will go by is her children, the children that she is half represented by. After all, the children are half Torvald and Nora, although Nora’s interest in the children will be in her half of the representation.