Analysis of a Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
Honesty in Marriage In A Doll’s House, Ibsen uses role reversal between Nora and Christine to show the importance of honesty in a good marriage versus dishonesty.
Nora and Torvald have the dishonest marriage and that proves to turn out badly for their relationship in the end. Christine remained an honest person and ended up with a rekindled relationship with her old love. At the very beginning, everything seems fine with Torvald and Nora if Nora’s initial act of dishonesty is ignored. Torvald calls to her first. “When did my squirrel come home? (Act I) Right after answering him, Nora does her best to hide the macaroons she had eaten against Torvald’s wishes by stuffing the bag in her pocket and frantically wiping the evidence from her mouth. All is seemingly well between them besides Nora’s lack of willpower against cookies.
When Christine comes on the scene, she is alone. She has come to where Nora lives to find work (even though she feels overworked). She is completely honest about her situation with Nora though. From the beginning Christine seems to have nothing to hide.
She explains how she spent her life taking care of her family and how she no longer has someone to care for other than herself. Later in the play, when Nora and Torvald go to the party, Nora’s mind is less on dancing the Tarantella and more on the letter Krogstad had written for Torvald.
In the letter was the truth about how Nora was able to pay for Torvald’s treatment in Paris. All this time, Torvald was thinking the money came from Nora’s father when in reality, Nora illegally forged her father’s name in order to obtain a loan from the bank at which Krogstad was employed.
Nora broke to law by doing business without a man and had not notified her husband. Now Nora is doing her best to stall Torvald in hope of not letting him read his letter from his letterbox. She does her best to be subtle by begging to stay at the party longer. Torvald refuses to give in to her pleas and eventually reads the letter.
The result is not pretty. Torvald becomes furious, “And as for you and me, it must appear as if everything between us were just as before–but naturally only in the eyes of the world. You will still remain in my house, that is a matter of course.
But I shall not allow you to bring up the children; I dare not trust them to you. To think that I should be obliged to say so to one whom I have loved so dearly, and whom I still–. No, that is all over.
From this moment happiness is not the question; all that concerns us is to save the remains, the fragments, the appearance—” (Act III) Torvald’s idea of a solution is to do his best to hide the situation as best her can by trying to appease Krogstad. Then he wants to keep Nora as a prisoner in her own home while simultaneously isolating her from her own children indefinitely.
All this time, Nora’s lies has cost her the relationship she thought she had with her husband. At the same time, Torvald has been hiding his true self from Nora. She never expected him to react in such a way and this lead her to make, more than likely, one of the hardest decision’s she’s ever had to make.
While Nora stresses about Krogstad’s letter, Christina decides to pay him a visit and does what Nora should have done with Torvald. Christine tells Krogstad the truth. She explains to Krogstad why they could not be together in the past.
She explains how much she needed money to care for her helpless mother and two brothers. She could not afford to wait around for Krogstad. That much, Krogstad can understand.
Notice how, their conversation does not involve any talk of shunning the other in anyway. Because Christine is honest with Krogstad, he accepts her the way she is, flaws and all. In the end, Nora feels it is best for her to be on her way even after Torvald changes his mind. Krogstad decides to forget the debt and not hold it over Nora’s head as blackmail any longer.
Torvald gets really happy and tries to act as if everything can go back the way it was, “Listen to me, Nora. You don’t seem to realise that it is all over.
What is this? –such a cold, set face! My poor little Nora, I quite understand; you don’t feel as if you could believe that I have forgiven you. But it is true, Nora, I swear it; I have forgiven you everything. I know that what you did, you did out of love for me. ” (Act III) He wants to believe that since Krogstad has relinquished the bonds, the situation is all over and everything her said before is in the past.
Unfortunately for him, Nora is not so sure. She thinks about how he was so ready to shun her and put her away like a common criminal.
She realizes that Torvald is not the noble man she thought he was and she is not the woman for him. She is tired of living like a man’s plaything all her life. Torvald is the one who helps her realize it and she leaves. Christine and Krogstad decide to revive their lost love and live together as a happy couple. So in the end, Nora and Torvald go through their marriage and lying to themselves and each other.
As a result, the marriage falls apart and Nora makes the decision to walk away.
She hopes to find herself in the world by allowing herself to be honest. Christine walks in with no one. She hides nothing and stays honest with herself. This gives her the freedom to be honest with her long, lost sweetheart, Krogstad. Her honesty gives them both the ability to truly love each other, unlike Nora and Krogstad. Nora and Christine have essentially switched places all because Christine was honest and Nora was not.