The play A Doll’s House has several instances of restrictions in life that mainly applied to women who lived in the 1870s. Ibsen demonstrates specific gender roles and tags to his advantage to show the distinction between absolute and conditional love. In his imagination, Ibsen combined with the drama the distinction between the two kinds of love are evaluated and differentiated in relation to the characters in the play who are also ideal of typecasts of the 1870s: the characters in the play express symbolism, foreshadowing, and dynamics.
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Some of the characters who are considered to be valuable in the play are Nora and Kristine because they portray the independent and dependent women of the 1870s. Nora is seen to be stereotypical because she seems to be somehow careless with money and this is because in her life she has never worked to earn herself some money. She is also self-indulgent, materialistic, uneducated, and impulsive. Throughout that era, Women were always supposed to be reliant on men.
Nora was a “doll” to both her father and Torvald as indicated in act III, 1250. She is also considered to be dynamic in that she changed from a “little lark” that used to do tricks to Torvard to an independent thinking woman who left her husband and children to find herself. On the other hand, Kristine had faced some misfortunes and trials in her life that made her work so as to provide for her family and herself. The sacrifices that she (Kristine) made forced her to realize what it was like in the real world. Through her actions, Kristine is vied to have broken the stereotypical mold that people were seeing women be subservient and docile objects of male attention. However, by the end of the play, she has seen yearning for love security, seen once again in the play when she happened to find herself in the arms of a man.
The two women (Nora and Kristine), who were different did set the stage for men who came into their lives who apparently happen to be different from each other, yet are still alike. Both of them suffer from pessimism. According to the play, Torvald is seen to be the stereotypical man of the 1870s since he has a strong belief that he is the master of the house. According to Sheri Metzger, “authority dwells with the establishment and as a lawyer and banker, Torvald undoubtedly represents the establishment”. In the play, Nora is viewed to be his Doll after he calls her “cute little animal” names associated with women’s roles in the 1800s. Torvald uses names such as songbird, lark, and spendthrift to show her weaknesses to his strength.
On the other hand, Nils seems to be a distinguishing character when he repeatedly tries to break the stereotypical mold. This is revealed when Nil listens to Kristine and then shows true affection for her. In this circumstance Nils is seen to be the pivotal player, in that without Nils’ character, the author would have been forced to show accurately the anti-stereotypical man of the 1870s. Still, Nils can be considered to be a dynamic character since he as well changed as the play continued. In the play, Nils went from the clichéd male who took advantage of an uneducated woman, assisting her in committing a felony and not telling her that her acts were highly illegal which led his own livelihood and reputation to be at stake. Nils changed from a blackmailer to someone who helped Nora from her much-encumbered life, to aid him in achieving ultimate freedom from the said life.
While evaluating these relationships, one can see the disparity in conditional and unconditional love; the reader can also see the sleaze of women’s rights and the stereotypes portrayed in the play. Since the beginning of the play, there was a forewarning of the ending of Torvald and Nora’s relationship. It was clearly revealed in Act I, 1207 when Nora is trying to convince Torvald to acquire a loan for the Christmas holidays and Torvald says “how like a woman!…from a home that’s founded on borrowing and debt” (Act I, 1207). Torvald and Nora signify unhappiness, the time-honored, and controlled bond that shows the weakness’ of conditional love.
This is well seen when Torvald discovers the secret Nora. Torvald was even ready to totally forsake their marriage vows and continue with a life of ruse when he thought that her dishonesty would destroy him, but after reading the last letter from Nils that stated that they have nothing to worry about his thoughts totally changed him to once again be the “loving” husband. According to (Act III, 1248) when he states; “Oh, to have to say this to someone I’ve loved so much!” indicated that he had changed his thinking on his wife’s behavior and it elegantly illustrates his love in the past tense.
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On the other side, Dr. Rank’s love for Nora is unconditional, and that awful quality indicates best what unrestricted love truly involves. This kind of love also requires enough so as to make it controversial and interesting. This is well revealed when Nora calls him her best and true friend, and also when Rank and Nora play with her silk stockings. Their love for each other is the type of relationship she ought to have had with her spouse. With his ill-judged discussions, nasty conversation, and his medical theories, Dr. Rank can hardly pass. Even at the moment, Dr. He is vital to the play because he seemed to have tried to keep quiet on the affection he had for Nora who happened to be his best friends’ wife until that time he could not hold it any longer and not pass on with this portion of darkness frozen inside.
The bond between Dr. Rank and Nora, though promising is quite immoral, to some extent akin to what can be felt in the budding of the renewed flame between Nils and Kristine. Kristine and Nils did not rekindle their relationship until the end of the story. The author (Ibsen) has demonstrated their unconditional love in a nearly scientific way. In the play, Kristine tells her reasons for parting with her husband and marrying another man, accepts Nils’ past, and loves him the way he was. For that reason Niks exonerates her and with that, they get past it to start a life as one and they gained an understanding of love, life, and the search for happiness. They together bring an equivalent share on the table and they have an agreement between them that nobody can put asunder and this is the way unconditional love is ought to be.
The dissimilarities between complete and untested love can be seen all through this play. By concentrating on the characters’ roles in the play the reader realizes how truly dysfunctional Nora and Torvald’s lives are. Torvald and Nora’s relationship shows how life was like for the women in the 1870’s. Nil Kristine’s relationship was foreseen to be a stable and loving one, one devoid of bitterness. The Doll House story is enduring in that the readers in current times can still relate to the cycles of belittling and mental abuse. Even today women generally link security and happiness with being held in the arms of a man, without knowing or inquiring what valuable dolls lie within.
Sheri Metzger, Literary analysis: A Doll House, by Henrik Ibsen.