Friday, September 17, 2010

After reading "A Doll's House"....

In the play, A Doll House, one of the main character's Torvald Helmer, can be described as a husband who thinks he is above his wife, both in status and intelligence. Even in the early scenes of the play, it is clear he patronizes his wife, treating her like a child by referring to her as "my little lark" and "squirrel". He will not even allow her to eat macaroons, though she does in secret, because he believes it will ruin her teeth. That is the sort of admonishment a parent expresses to a child, not a spouse.

By the end of the play, Helmer has not changed in personality at all. If anything, his ugly nature is revealed once he learns of how his wife borrowed money without his consent. Though his wife did what she did to save his life and spare his pride, he was not anywhere near grateful. Instead, he was only worried about their reputation, his own predominantly. As he berated her, he painted a picture of how he really saw his wife, irresponsible and weak.

Nora decides to leave him and children to find out if she can be a person, not just a 'irresponsible and weak' wife and mother. The marriage she describes, one where both partners are not strangers, can discuss serious matters, and treat each other as equals is not one that Helmer would be capable of sharing. Perhaps, after a few months or years without his wife, he would come to see what it is he truly lost, and he would be willing to change.

While reading A Doll House, there were two symbols that I found predominant: money and the letter from Krogstad that sat in the mailbox. For the wife, Nora, money was an object symbolizing the love and easy life she wished on her husband and family. Her husband had received a prestigious raise at the bank, and soon their money woes were to be forgotten. Thus, the stress-free life Nora envisioned would finally come to fruition. Love was also equatable with money because Nora took out a loan for her dying husband in order to nurse him back to health. It was a loan she had no way to pay back at the time, but over the years, she worked hard to do just that.

The letter Krogstad left in the Helmer mailbox, detailing of Nora's loan and her forgery, was a symbol for the end of the Helmer marriage. Nora and her friend Mrs. Linde delayed Torvald from reading the letter for as long as they could, but it was a like a ticking timebomb in the mailbox, waiting to set off an emotional and truthful display of what the Helmer marriage was truly composed of.

1 comment:

  1. It's been years since I've read it. Thanks for a great review.