With 'A Doll House' Henrik Ibsen brought Norway into the spectrum of international literature, it can perhaps be said without hesitation that Ibsen singlehandedly built the monument which Norwegian literature is considered to be today.
In brief 'A Doll house' is the story of Nora Helmer, a carefree coy little creature, a darling wife, a dutiful mother and in every way the perfect example of what a woman was supposed to have been in the day and age she was created. Her loving husband Torvald Helmer, is a man of superior values, honest, truthful and quite indulgently fond of his wife Nora. They made, as is perhaps obvious, a picture perfect couple, young, dashing and of stuff fairytales are made of.
However soon it becomes evident that the life Nora lives is to a large extent a facade, she has, it is revealed, been under considerable debt following a loan she had taken from a man named Krogstad. Krogstad is a man of ill repute, having fallen in the eyes of society following an illegal act of his. Torvald, of course, is unaware of Nora's dirty little secret, which seems a little unfair since the money had been borrowed for him to be cured of a fatal disease. Krogstad is a regular source of tension to Mrs. Helmer who tries hard to keep her secret from her husband. But unfortunately for her soon she discovers that heavy loan is not her only problem, she had infact been involved in a greater crime ---------- forgery. Ignorant of the legal technicalities she had forged her father's signature on a date later than his death. This Krogstad soon points out and under desperate circumstances wastes no time in blackmailing Nora.
While Torvald provides no refuge from the immediate storm Nora's life seems to be going through she finds immediate solace in the company of her husband's Physician, Dr.Rank. With Dr.Rank unlike with her husband she is unrestrained, uninhibited and pours out her trouble and qualms regularly.
The splintering vigour with which their relationship grows apprehends a romance, which undoubdetly develops albeit in a one sided way. Dr.Rank makes his affection for Nora known, but is denied.
Also in the picture is Nora's old friend Mrs. Lindt, who is almost everything Nora is not. having lost her husband, she is financially independent, widowed, with considerable confidence and qualification. She serves as a foil to Nora as Rank does to Torvald, and perhaps provides the most significant purpose in the play in her estimation of Nora's reality and her influence over her, which paves Nora's way to her ultimate estrangement of her husband.
Once Torvald discovers Nora's secret he assumes the patriarchal mode which is a sociological reality of Ibsen's immediate world.
he rebukes Nora in no uncertain terms for her ignorance which he considers to be inherent to her sex, however the final blow to the marriage is served by him when he declares his forgiveness to Nora, announcing that inspite of her crime he Torvald Helmer would still forgive and accept Nora back as his wife.
AT this juncture of the play, Nora Helmer undergoes a metamorphosis many consider uncharacteristic of the Nora we encounter in the preceeding acts of the play. Not only does she snap, she snaps in such a calm, and chillingly dignified manner which at once shows the marriage between her and Torvald in all its bare nakedness. She makes it obvious that the reality of their unison is that there is no reality at all, infact this marriage had been a marriage of facades, her facade to be the perfect wife and his to be ignorant of her truth. Nora helmer's questions had shaken Europe in its time, and till date, they put forward disturbing ideas that unlike what it is usually projected as is not merely about thefemale or feminism but about the individual and their individuality.
the existence of the Individual Nora, with her acts which are not justified in the eyes of the large secular fate like society, but yet is drenched in humanitarian concern ben point of the play.
Time and again however, A Doll House has been considered to be a feminist play inspite of its creators persistent denials.
however it remains undeniable that in the context of the play Nora's womanhood does provide a feministic edge to the drama as does her final departure, which in that day and age was a revolution in itself, infact many countries did not accept Ibsen's ending and forced the playwright to alter it as per their demands.
The recurring theme of wealth, the lack and abundance of it also gives it a subterranean capitalist outlook. In the day and age of Ibsen when capitalism was still a slowly emerging reality, he had perhaps expressed his critique only in the method he knew, through his works.
in the final analysis A Doll House remains a tale of the powerplay of society sex and money of the highest kind.