Whether you are beaten or spoiled, fed or starved, kept in squalor or kept pleasant, a cage is still is a cage. Nora is like a bird unable to fulfill its potential for she is a bird caged in her own marriage. Externally Nora is a creature to be adorned; internally she is a bird yearning to explore her full potential beyond the bars of her marriage. In a society governed by the conjectures of men Ibsen undoubtedly asks; to what extent have we sacrificed ourselves for the sake of social customs, and to protect what we think is love? The union between Nora and Torvald is nothing more than an illusion, and she nothing more than a doll within Torvalds's house. This ideal marriage of Torvalds's is simply a romanticized fantasy; love attainable in only dreams, and poetry. A doll's house by Ibsen displays 3 fundamental viewpoints of marriage; one of sacrifice, one of fantasy, and one of true love in doing this the audience can understand the struggles and triumphs of marriage shown through the eyes of every Nora in every social and economic class.
The sacrifice the female characters in the play make for the sake of love and marriage are ones women from the start of time have had to make. This is shown in act 3 when Nora explains that even though men refuse to sacrifice their integrity 'hundreds of thousands of women have' (Ibsen) . Mrs. Linde had to abandon her beloved Krogstad in order to marry a wealthier man. Her motive for leaving a love that many women and men seek out is that she had to bear the finances of her family. In a conversation between her and Nora, Mrs. Linde was described as 'growing paler, thinner and older' (Ibsen) . This description of her stresses just how unkind life had been to her. Mrs. Linde says 'when you've sold yourself once for the sake of others, you don't do it a second time' (Ibsen) . Though her marriage to Mr. Linde can be seen as that of struggle in another light it can be seen as a triumph. Mrs. Linde can be said to have lived 2 lives, that of a servant to her husband and that of a 'emancipated women who knows herself as a woman and an individual' (Metzger) .
' Nora Helmer is a child in women's clothing enjoying the only life she has ever known' (Goonetteleke) she bask in her marriage to a surrogate father who not only disciplines her like on would a docile puppy, but his true love is manifested in nothing more than a type of perversion. Though a reader can see Torvald obviously loves Nora superficially she still sacrifices in many a ways for the sake of her marriage to her beloved Torvald. The love she has for her husband manifest itself in the forging of her father's signature to get a loan from the bank that ultimately saves Torvald's life. Had Nora not done what she did, he would have died. We see she sacrifices her own freedom because forgery is punishable by imprisonment. She also puts not only her family, but her own reputation on the line. Even in understanding all she is putting at risk, when Krogstad informs her of his knowing of her crime replies simply 'why? You'll soon have all your money back' (Ibsen) . The reason she gives is so simple, even in light of all that she has given for Torvald. Nora never even considers what she did is wrong so long as it Is justified by her actions being out of love for Torvald. It is this reasoning ignorant or not that is a symbolic answer to the question 'why do people sacrifice so much to retain so little in the court of marriage? ' (Metzger) . Nora's eight word answer to Krogstad's question says too many marriages that sacrifice if it in any way can help you or your partner should be done if capable of being done.
Don't sacrifice yourself too much because if you do there won't be anything left of you. Sacrifice can be seen in a negative and positive light, but for any mother sacrifice of her children is one that is undeniably negative. The scene in which Nora 'slams the door' (Ibsen) behind herself is one of the most prolific scene in the entire play. Nora's reasoning for walking out on her filial and marital responsibilities is relatively simple. Once she realizes that Torvald will not be coming to her rescue like he fantasizes about she understands that she is just a doll 'molded by her father, then by her husband' (Forward) . It is this move from ignorance to understanding that she says to Torvald 'I have been your doll wife, just as at home I was papa's doll child; and here the children have been my doll's' (Ibsen) . Torvald is in utter shock and awe that Nora could abandon her 'most sacred duties' (Ibsen) . Nora reciprocates by saying she has duties that are just as sacred: 'duties to myself'. It can be argued that Nora may have partially agreed with Torvald when he says 'an atmosphere of lies infects and poisons the whole life of a home… almost everyone who has gone to the bad early in life has had a deceitful mother'. First she must find who she is as a human being first and foremost before she can properly raise her children. Nora sees that if she continues to be a doll in Torvald's home it would be 'deceitful' to her children for they will grow up to be dolls just as she did. The only way to not 'poison' the lives of her children is to first find her identity before she can help anyone find their own. By also walking out on her marriage, Nora invites herself to not only be judged by society, but to poverty for she had no income or security. Once Nora realizes that love does not exist in the dance of the tarantella or the confines of Torvald's home is when she will be able to find herself. In finding who she is, she will then be able to take care of her obligations as a mother, and possibly wife.
Torvald's viewpoint of marriage is that of fantasy. He acts as if his wife is not even a person, but a doll to be dressed up, we see this when he says to Nora before the party to dress up as a 'Neapolitan peasant girl'. During the party he pretends she is his 'secrete bride to be' and 'no one suspects anything between them'. He imagines that they are lovers in a secret relationship, and once away from the party he cannot wait to carry her off. He says 'all this evening I've longed for nothing but you. When I saw you return and sway in the tarantella- my blood was pounding till I couldn't stand it that's why I brought you down here early' (Ibsen) . When reading this one imagines that Torvald is husband, whom simply fantasizes about what he wants from his wife erotically. 'Torvald makes all the decisions and his wife must obey' (Floyd) . Torvalds evident need for so much fantasy shows that he admires her, but doesn't love her. His use of diminutive terms to address his wife such as his 'little lark' and his 'little squirrel' show on a 'non-sexual level' (Metzger) his wife is constituted in his mind as something she is not. Torvalds struggle to see his wife as more than a trophy, and a fantasy image is what stops him from getting to know her well enough to love her (Floyd) . It is not until Torvald gets past the image of his wife, he has created in his mind that he will be able to fix his marriage. If he chooses not to his marriage will crumble under his own perverse idea of true love.
Kristine and Krogstad depict what a marriage bound in true love is. Though Nora slams the door on her marriage, Kristine opens the same door (Metzger) . In the same way that a mirror reflects an image, Kristine is the opposite image of Nora (Forward) . Nora has known a life of little struggle, whereas Kristine is a survivor of a loveless marriage more than familiar with deprivation. Krogstad is able to forgive Kristine for walking out on him because she did it to help her family. Torvald is unable to forgive his wife for forging the signature. Krogstad is able to heal his marriage, whereas Torvald will hear nothing of the sort. Even when Kristine knows Krogstads plot she still loves him. She even insists that he makes sure Torvald knows the truth, she says 'those two have to come to a full understanding; all these lies and evasions can't go on'. In doing this she genuinely wants to show Nora and Torvald the reality of their made up marriage. By doing this the union between Kristine and Krogstad become a model for what a real marriage is; being able to love your partner unconditionally. Their love is rooted in their dependence on one another. Kristine says 'I need to have someone to care for and your children need a mother. We both need each other Nils, I have faith that you're good at heart ill risk everything together with you' (Ibsen) . Krogstad Replies 'Kristine thank you, thank you, now I know I can win back a place in your eyes' Kristine needs Krogstad as much as Krogstad needs her. This exemplifies what true love is for they care and thrive off of one another. Kristine's decision to pursue marriage works when both partners equal to another. In a religious sense Kristine and Krogstad are like Adam and Eve where Eve is created from the rib of Adam to be set equal to her husband.
People have always fallen I love with the most perfect details of their significant other. Anybody can love the most perfect aspects of you. Real true love is rooted in this: being able to accept every flaw. How many married couples have been able to say they look at their partner's flaws and say I can work around that, I can learn to love that fault (Clemson) . The good things if reality will always be there. It is being able to look at your husband or wife and uproot the ruin which lays each and every one of us. The audience is able to understand the struggles and triumphs of marriage because Ibsen presents them in such a way that deserves to be lauded. Let none of us sacrifice for one who will not give back. Be man or wife you should not look for love in a fantasized image of your partner. Get to know who they are as first an individual so you won't grow tired of them. Let us triumph over true love. We see true love succeed over every circumstance, even when society so desperately wants you to remain a doll in their house.
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