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A Doll's House: Nora, Torvald and the Tragic Hero

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A Doll's House: Nora, Torvald and the Tragic Hero

Henrik Ibsen's play "A Doll's House" features many characters, two of which are of great importance and have considerable difference among them. Nora Helmer and her husband Torvald live their lives in such a way that they are oblivious to their true desires and needs in life. Nora, the protagonist of the play, seems naпve and unknowledgeable of the world outside her home. Although she seems joyful, we find out that she is subconsciously unhappy and not as innocent as she seems. In contrast, her husband Torvald is a hard-headed man who believes that a man's role in marriage is to protect his wife and guide her almost as a father would. By comparing Nora with Torvald, they have many conflicts, and dissimilarities between their attitudes towards each other, which eventually leads to Nora separating from the household, a tragic event for her kids as well as to Torvalds reputation.

Torvald treats Nora as a child by patronizing her and calling her names. However, Nora is much smarter than he perceives. She hides the macaroons from him and by lying about this, we can already get the sense that she is unhappy and defies Torvald in many ways. In reality, Nora possesses an intelligent, manipulative side that Torvald doesn't realize exists. By secretly saving money to pay off the loan, Nora reveals that she had to keep this secret from Torvald a long time and one day hoped that by doing this heroic act, he will still be faithful to her even as her attractiveness fades. It isn't until the end of the play when Nora realizes that she is being held back in life by Torvald, her father and society, "That's just it. You have never understood me...I've been greatly wronged, Torvald. First by my father, and then by you." (p 279). In her climatic confrontation with Torvald, she says "I lived by doing tricks for you, Torvald. But that's the way you wanted it. You and Daddy did me a great wrong. It's your fault that I've never made anything of my life." (p 280). By living the life that Torvald wanted of her, Nora never was able to accomplish much and was living in an illusion of happiness, thus leading to her tragic leaving and self-realization of independence.

Torvald Helmer is a strict man who believes in the law and its implications. He enjoys the idea that Nora needs him and wouldn't be able to survive without his help. Though Torvald holds the power in their relationship, Nora seems to be more mature and aware rather than Torvald. Dr. Rank states, "Helmer is a sensitive soul; he loathes anything that's ugly. I don't want him visiting me..." (p 250), and this suggests that he feels Torvald is a child who needs protection from the realities he faces. Evident from the play, we understand that Torvalds affection for Nora is largely based on physical appearance. For example, he forbids her



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