Jul 11, 2019 in Literature

A House of Dolls

As a form of art, drama has been practiced for thousands and thousands of years, however the modern day drama has greatly borrowed a leaf from the ancient drama. The modern western drama can be traced back to the 6th Century BC. The thespians of the time developed a new form of drama in which they were able to create different characters by impersonation.

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Purpose of the Paper

Drama just like religion can be discussed for ages without exhaustion, the purpose of this paper however will focus on plat that has been reviewed and acted for many years “A Doll House” by Henrik Ibsen. It important to note that most of Henrik plays explore the human condition alienated in the modern society; his characters provide the vehicle to dramatize the restrictions social mores place on individuals in their search for freedom from self-deception and illusion. This essay paper will try to bring out the theme of polarization force as used in the play, the paper will however start by looking at the main character in the play and there after give a summary of the play. The main purpose of the play will be to discuss as to whether the play is unifying or a polarization force with reference to the events that take place in the play. The paper will close by giving a brief summary of the key points that were discussed in the course of study.

The Main Characters

The main characters in the play are Torvald and Nora Helmer who are husband and wife. Torvald is a banker by profession where as his wife Nora is a housewife. The play also has Christine Linde who is Nora longest friend and they share a lot of secrets. Dr. Rank is the personal physician of Mr. Torvald and finally there is the cunning bank lawyer Mr. Nils Krogstad.

Summary of the Play

Nora Holmer forges her father’s signature in order to get a loan to pay for the medical bills of her sick husband (Torvald). She uses her meager earnings from her work as a house help to repay the loan.  The husband gets well after sometime and he is appointed as bank manager. His first assignment is to fire the person he believed forged his signature – Nils Krogstan (Bank Clerk and Lawyer). The twist of the play is that, Norma forged her father’s signature obtained the loan with the help of the Bank Clerk (Krogstad), who was not aware of it then. When the clerk/lawyer Mr. Krostagan discovers she forged her father’s signature, he blackmails her to convince her husband not to fire him or he will expose them. The husband later discover what she had done and out of pride he declares he is willing to disown her for the sake of his job. 

A Polarizing Force

There are many themes that have been bought out in the play “A Doll’s House” and they include money, lies and deceit, love, respect and reputation, the home, men and masculinity, women and femininity, marriage. All this themes act either as a polarizing force of a unifying force in the play. As the play develops one act after the other, it quite evident that most of events that occur in the play do not unify men against women but pit them against each other and it focuses more on masculinity than femininity; however there some scenarios in the play where negative female characteristics have been brought in the open. One of the main literary theory’s that is clear and evident in the play is feminist criticism and intimidation.

Feminist Criticism

In the play most male characters are out to criticize and intimidate their female counterparts. This brings out the theory of female criticism.  To illustrate this further, the main male character in the play, Torvald is proud, egoistic and proud. In the play Torvald intimidates his wife and all other female characters in the play. In addition to that, he (Torvald) is always accusing his wife of being a wasteful and careless person when it comes to handling money, this criticism made his wife feel unappreciated and as a result she lost her self esteem and sense of pride. This can be witnessed in act I where Torvald blasts Nora the reason she is a woman is because of her lack of understanding when it comes to financial matters. In this scenario it can be said that the main character is trying to dominate his female companion. This is unfair since in marriage there should be equality between partners.

Another character in the play is the bank lawyer Mr. Nils Krogstan. In the play he has been portrayed as a cunning and cheeky character who used blackmail to get what he wants in life. In the play, he blackmailed the wife of the bank manager (Nora) so that she could convince her husband not to fire him. This is a clear case of men polarizing force in such a way that men are trying to gain an upper hand over their women counterparts and assume the leadership role.

Female criticism in the play did not ganged men against female only but also female against female. In the play there are two main female characters, Nora Helmer who is the wife of Torvald Helmer and Christine Linde who is Nora’s best and longest friend.  There are two sides of Nora in the play; the first one being a submissive, naïve and old fashioned wife, the other side being an evasive person and full of secrets.

In the case of Christine, she is a sad and lonely person who married not because of love but the monetary gain that she was to gain. The difference in the character of these two women made them criticize each other on a regular basis especially when it came to matters related to money. They boost how their husbands have or will have lots of money in the near future. It however the child like and self centered character of Nora that is clearly brought out, she pretends to care about the tribulations that her friend is going thorough but the truth is that she didn’t care at all.


In all the three acts in the play, there is a clear evidence of a polarizing force and fight for supremacy between male and female. This essay paper has shown the various scenarios that bring out the female criticism and intimidation. In conclusion, plays and drama are used as a tool to convey a message to the public and the community in general. A time the message may be too complicated to understand but that is what makes art and theatre unique and in most cases it makes people want to read the play or go to the theatre and watch the performance. The evolution of the cinema has however threatened the existence of theatre halls and the actors but with the regulation of the cinema sector; these theatres can still be used as tools for communication as well as entertainment.

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