A Doll House is a profound social commentary designed to expose the faults concerning the family and marriage of the nineteenth century.
One of the most difficult conflicts in the average family revolves around the issue of finance. Ibsen uses this common example of domestic dispute as a major theme in portraying the imperfections of the typical home. The plot is primarily propelled by the deceptions of each character and his or her use of money, in addition to the consequences of each persons financial decisions.The protagonist of this drama, Nora Helmer seems to be controlled by money in almost every action she displays and in most every dialogue the topic of money appears to be introduced by her.
Not only does her husband Torvald continually criticize the wasteful ways he perceives she uses his money, she herself is constantly mentioning Torvalds recent raise as if that is most important to her and her happiness. When talking to Mrs. Linde, both characters speak in detail about their personal financial situations, both for richer or for poorer, as if the management of money can be the only true test of a persons integrity and value. Obviously, Mrs. Lindes marriage was solely based on financial gain when Nora asks the ladys motive for choosing her husband and Mrs.
Linde replies I hadMotherand my two younger brothers to look after. I didnt think I had the right to turn him down (Act I). Noras reaction to this is actually a hint into her character. Apparently, Nora’s incredulity that Mrs.
Linde was left with “only a grief to live on” indicates to Mrs. Linde that Nora has not known hardship in her life. This realization suggests to the reader that the character development of Nora in the play is apt to include some sort of hardship or life lessons (Spark Notes). Nora, however, attempts to prove her worth when she details the exact way in which she saved her husbands life through financial means.Along with Noras incessant references to money are the many endeavors she makes to pay back her loan from Krogstad. She uses all of her extra money to make payments, causing Torvald to believe she is a spend-thrift. Her deceptions worsen with every act as she tries to cover up the illegal and covert acts of the past.
This would even break down a typical marriage, however, because of Torvalds condescending and parental behavior toward Nora the problem is escalated. The observer can almost conclude that if Nora was treated as an equal with the same rights and privileges of her husband she would exercise less deceit. She would feel secure in sharing with her husband the financial burdens and also have the freedom to make money decisions without pressure from Torvald.Another sub-plot regarding money surrounds the character of Krogstad. Slowly revealed throughout the drama, the failures of Krogstad in his finances come to light His reputation has been ruined by past illegal actions and his loss of integrity as a lawyer. When Torvald speaks of him, he says disgustedly, “..
.when a man lives inside a circle of stinking lies he brings infection into his own home and contaminates his whole family. With every breath of air his children inhale the germs of something ugly (Act I). This comment is ironic because unbeknownst to him his wife has done the very same act, forging signatures, to save his life.
Torvald is so dogmatic about the fact that people such as Krogstad are not fit to raise children, which practically mirrors his condemnation of Nora at the end when she reveals her horrible secret. In a fit of panic, Torvald says, But I wont let you bring up the children: I dare not trust you with them (Act III). Again, the measure of a persons worth and morality is dictated by their capacity to manage money properly.
Mrs. Linde, is also a person who struggles financially. Along with her loveless marriage meant for monetary gain, she experiences sadness when she cannot marry her true love Krogstad because of his money difficulties and shady past. She even admits her own selfish motives when Nora announces her husbands new postion at the bank. Clearly, Mrs.
Linde has money as a great priority, illustrated when she says, Do you knowwhen you told me about your husbands new position I was delighted not so much for your sake but for my own. Mrs. Lindes mind immediately sees her gain in a friends opportunity.Also, Mrs. Linde is another example of basing self-worth on finances.
She finds herself without a purpose when she has no one to live for anymore and her relations dont need her because theyve got jobs and can support themselves (Act I). As a result of her husbands death, her lack of children, and the removal of others financial dependence on her, she perceives that she has no goal or motive in working. For so long, she has found her value in supporting others, that when she is no longer needed, she cannot fill a great emptiness (Act I). In conclusion, it is clear that Ibsen meant to use money as a tangible and common-place example of the social evils present in his time period. This allowed him to explore many areas of human weakness including deception, untrustworthiness, and condescension. Although this drama is not exclusively for womens rights, Ibsen uses this controversial topic to express his ideas about human rights in general.
The theme of money transcends both genders and all times and places making it an ideal source of conflict and character development.