A Doll House is a play first performed in 1879, and written by Henrik Ibsen. Upon its publication, the play was praised for lifelike dialogue, realistic characters, and a compelling plot. The protagonist of the play is Nora Helmer, wife of Torvald Helmer, a middle class banker due for a promotion. As the story progresses, Nora’s self-esteem progressively worsens, and her mind fills with doubt about what she was once proud of. Nora does what she thinks is best for her family; however, her decisions are also rash and self-centered, and she frequently disobeys her husband.
A Doll House is renowned for the meaningfulness of every scene, and this is certainly true of the reader’s introduction to Nora Helmer. One of the first scenes of the play involves Nora secretly eating macaroons that are directly forbidden by her husband. This sequence of events parallels the Biblical forbidden fruit, thus foreshadowing the disastrous events that will later occur. While Nora tries to avoid trouble, she is easily tempted, and is very vain as well. Later in the story she discloses that she saved the life of her husband by borrowing money to take a trip to Italy. In this scene, Nora appears to brag about her life saving bargain, and is very proud of her skills in attaining the money. While she thinks that she single-handedly saved her husband’s life, she actually borrowed the money illegally, causing a legal dispute between her and the man who she borrowed from. While she thinks that what she did was right, she soon finds out that she may have done more harm than good. In this way, Nora tries to be selfless, but her attempts usually end in failure.
While Nora may try to help her family, she also does many things simply for her own selfish ends. One example of Nora’s shortcomings is the frequent disobedience of her husband. Even in the short amount of the time that the story takes place in, Nora lies to her husband countless times. Almost the entire story revolves around Nora’s bad qualities, such as deceit, vanity, and greed. Nora may try to help her family sometimes, but the negatives always outweigh the positive effects of her help.
Overall, Nora is an interesting character who tries to do the right thing; however, she always ends up in more trouble than intended.