When a woman is treated like a darling, pampered and insulated from the cares of the outside world by a protective husband, does she have valid reason to complain? A Doll’s House, a play written by Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, challenges social convention in the 1800s involving the role of women in society. It challenges the norm that women are inferior to men and are undeserving of trust when it comes to the serious work of managing the family affairs. Although rich in material comforts, the “doll-wife
” is deprived of the chance to prove herself capable of making decisions deemed exclusive to the husband’s domain. Nora and Torvald Helmer, husband and wife, live in relative comfort with his ample income as a barrister. Nora stays at home to take care of the children. Helmer becomes ill and Nora is advised by the doctors that he must live down South in order to recover. Problem is, they have no money and she can not tell her husband for fear it might aggravate his sickness. Unknown to Helmer, Nora borrows money from Krogstad, with a bond in her father’s name as security for the loan. Since his father was ill, she forges his signature, but unwittingly enters the wrong date. Nora keeps the thing to herself, hoping to tell her father about it but he dies before she could do so. Nora is able to get the money and tells Helmer it came from her father’s estate. Helmer is cured and they return home. To pay back the loan, Nora had to work hard in secret but she gladly made the sacrifice. Helmer is appointed bank manager. With his salary, Nora can now pay off the loan and the family can look forward to a return to happy times. Christian Linde, a friend of Nora and recently widowed, arrives and asks Nora to intercede for her with her husband for a position in the bank. But Krogstad, who knows about Nora’s secret, reappears.
Krogstad works in the bank where Helmer is appointed manager. Helmer dislikes Krogstad and intends to remove him and give his position to Mrs. Linde. Krogstad knows about Nora’s forgery and has kept the bond as evidence. He wants her to convince Helmer to retain his services. Helmer is adamant. Nora tries hard to keep Helmer from knowing, but in the end, Krogstad writes a letter to Helmer telling him about Nora’s forgery. Nora tries to prevent Helmer from reading it, but it was too late. She contemplates running away and commiting suicide, expecting Helmer would take the blame for what she had done. But Helmer reacts violently, more concerned about his reputation that was about to be ruined by Nora’s action, and condemns her for it. Unknown to them, Christian and Krogstad are former lovers, and the matter about Nora’s secret reconciles them. Krogstad decides not to reveal the secret anymore. Informed that his reputation would not be ruined after all, Helmer promptly asks Nora for forgiveness. But she, realizing she had been wronged by the two men she loved, treated by them not as a human being but a mere plaything, decides to leave the home to begin a new life all by herself. The moral of the story may be that, while there is nothing wrong with the traditional way of bringing up a family in which the man works for a living while the woman minds the home, the fact that a man earns the family bread does not make her subservient to him, nor detract from her worth and dignity as a human person.