Reading and observing a film of the play A Doll’s House (Delbanco) gave me a new perspective on the meaning of what love in a marriage was like in 1879. When we look at their marriage in the context of the era they lived in, Torvald and Nora’s marriage looks like one of love and dedication. They were living a life the way they were expect to for social appearances, not because of their love for each other. The story has a good side of love because of the friendship, kinship and what seems to be romance and passion throughout the play. The relationship between Torvald and Nora ends on the bad side of love, with the broken hearts, loss and a very valuable lesson. A Doll’s House, in my opinion, would definitely be classified as a bad love because of betrayal, deceit and duty.
In Act I, Torvald portrays a man of honesty, devoted husband and father with high morals. Torvald is the type of man every mother would want her daughter to marry. He uses terms of endearment like “my little squirrel” and “my little skylark” (Ibsen 1346). Trovald sees his marriage as part of his public image and not one of love; after all he had just been promoted from a lawyer to a bank manager.
Nora believes that her purpose in life is to be happy, dance, sing and play for her husband and children. She performs tricks for her husband by pretending to be his little squirrel, little skylark or song bird. Nora is a person without depth. She is defined by her husband who treats her like a spoiled child. She allows him to control every aspect of her life. Trovald asks, “Hasn’t Miss Sweettooth been breaking the rules to-day?” (Ibsen 1348) It is obvious that the marriage of Torvald and Nora is superficial and that they really do not know each other. They are really not in love with each other.
Thje marriage unravels when Torvald reacts badly to Nora borrowing money. "Miserable creature--what have you done?"(Ibsen 1386). Nora was so sure that Torvald would take the blame because he loved her so much. She realizes that she was just a plaything and decides to leave her home, children and marriage. Nora tells Torvald “I have another duty, just as sacred…My duty to myself” (Ibsen 1390). She is telling Torvald that she no longer wants to live a lie and be his plaything, a life without true love.
The play A Doll’s House is about deceit and betrayal which classifies it as a bad love. Torvald and Nora must face up to the reality of that their marriage was never a marriage of true love. During the time period they lived in a lot of marriages consisted of duty and social lies, which would place the marriages in the bad love category. I believe that Torvald and Nora never really had a real true love, the “death do us part kind”. In the closing lines, Nora states, "That our life together would be a real wedlock. Good-bye." (ibsen 1392).
A Little about the Author
Henrik Ibsen life span was from 1828-1906. He was a Norwegian playwright who is known as the “father of realism”. Ibsen apprenticed as a pharmacist as a teenager. He was a stage manager and playwright for the Norwegian theater. He also lived in Germany and Italy.
A Doll's House. Dir. Patrick Gsrlsnd. Perf. Anthony, Claire Bloom Hopkins. 1973. Film.
Delbanco, Nicholas and Alan Cheruse. Literature Craft and Voice. Second Edition. New York City: Mc Graw-Hill, 2012. Print.
Ibsen, Henrik. "A Doll's House." Delabanco, Nicholas and Alan Cheuse. Literature Craft and Voice. New York City: McGraw Hill, 2012. 1345-1393. Book.