A recurring theme in Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll House is duty and loyalty to others. The motif emerges from an examination of the storyline and form, characterization, imagery, and vocabulary used. This academic article would take a close look at these elements and demonstrate how they work together to help Ibsen accomplish the theme’s intended goals. Furthermore, there would be ample evidence and, if possible, quotes to associate the proposals with the core concept under consideration. The essay will begin by looking at the plot and the structure and how it shows the need for responsibility and commitment to others.
The play starts at Christmas with Nora walking into his house with gifts in her arm. Torvald Helmer, her husband, notes her with the gift package and makes fun by calling her a little squirrel (Gardner 853) Torvald mentioned that the previous year saw, his wife spent a good amount of her time to make gifts because they did not have enough money at hand. Nora is positive about her husband securing a job at a local bank and thus says they should stop worrying through living little (Gardner 854). Torvald is thus brought out as a responsible man who would want the best out of his family. Nora shows commitment to her family and care for friends through the gifts purchased. The previous year had not put off her generous flame and was dedicated to making gifts using her hands to spread joy to her family and friends.
The play has three major characters: Nora, who appears to be the protagonist, Nils Krogstad, and Torvald as antagonists. Nora is the protagonist because it is her actions that are more concentrated on for the audience to follow. Besides, Nora comes out as the only character who experienced substantial changes in the course of the play. Torvald, towards the end of the play, becomes another protagonist besides Nils, both who at a certain point in the play are in conflict with the protagonist. Nora is portrayed as a naïve woman with few challenges in life having being cushioned by her husband who provided all of her needs. Upon the interaction with Mrs. Linde, she realized that her experience with life was limited and would use the old woman as a foil. Upon Torvald suffering, Nora resulted to forging documents to secure enough money for her familys upkeep as the husband recuperated. It was later revealed that the money was borrowed from Nils who is about to be fired by her husband. After coming clean and facing her husband, the response she got was not anticipated and thus makes the decision to leave him and get a new experience. Nora faced her husband and asked, does it not occur to you that this is the first time ..have a serious conversation? (Gardner 885)
The choice of these characters further pushed the idea of showing responsibilities and commitment to others. The good and the bad side of the theme are brought out through characterization Nora was committed to doing anything for her husband just to make her life, but towards the end, the commitment to guarantee the stability of her relationship seems to fail. Besides, although Mrs. Linde wanted to show commitment in helping Nora, she made the relationship shaky before things fell apart towards the end of the play. Nora is, therefore, rebellious in nature and has failed in her duties as a woman.
Ibsens choice of language was vital in showing the responsibilities and commitment to others. Ibsen chose the title to be A Dolls House with Nora saying that she was a doll-child to her father. Nora says, he played with me as I used to play with my dolls (Gardner 976). Nora is compared to a doll with her life being the real doll house. Her life had initially being kept together and clean before being controlled by her father, her husband and finally by Krogstad. As a doll of her house, Nora is not committed to herself but those around her. She sacrifices to give her children the best life and show love to her husband. However, a lack of commitment to herself is a major problem in realizing happiness. The focus on the external expectations was therefore too much such that she forgot to concentrate on the self-expectations.
Imagery has also been a successful tool in showing the responsibilities and the commitment to others as seen in the dialogue, costumes, props and lighting. The imagery is essential in adding color, tone, and depth in the whole play. Towards the end of the play, Helmer was telling Nora that he would protect her, Try to calm yourself my little-frightened singing bird (Gardner 890). The choice of using a bird can be considered as giving the audience a feeling of commitment as well as accountability. Helmer is trying to reassure his wife that he is ready to be accountable for her and ensure she is always safe. The imagery is made to stand out through the syntax and the diction in the phrase.
Conclusively, the plot and structure, the choice of characters, the language and the imagery have successfully made Ibsen pass across the idea of responsibility and commitment to others. All these tools were carefully knit together, and it is only with a keen eye by the reader that they can be identified. Ibsen, therefore, proves again that he was a prolific writer who used different literary tools in passing his ideas and ideals, something that saw his works get a great acceptance.
Gardner, Janet E., et al. “A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen.” A Portable Anthology. 3rd Edition. New York: Bredford St. Martins, 2013. 850-908.