Marriage, Family, and Love in A Doll’s House

As a play focused around the marriage between Nora and Torvald, A Doll’s House is often seen as a person’s search of affection and marriage, or even, more profoundly, on whether there is often love in marriage. At the start of the play, Nora and Torvald appear to be very happily married, even to themselves. At first, it seems that Nora and Torvald both enjoy playing the roles of husband and wife in a way that’s considered respectable by society. However, Nora soon reveals to Mrs. Linde that she went behind Torvald’s back by borrowing the cash from Krogstad, and thus has already broken both the law and therefore the rules of marriage at the time. This creates a dilemma: Nora broke the principles of marriage, yet did so to save lots of her husband’s life—a true act of affection. Nora talks joyfully about her love for Torvald, and Torvald refers to Nora using affectionate pet names. Their loving marriage stands in stark contrast with the lives of the opposite characters: the marriages of Krogstad and Mrs. Linde have supported necessity instead of love and were unhappy. While Dr. Rank was never married, and, it’s revealed, has silently loved Nora for years. Yet although Nora and Torvald’s marriage is predicated on love (as against necessity, as was the case with Krogstad and Mrs. Linde), it’s nonetheless still governed by the strict rules of society that dictated the roles of husband and wife. It is clear that Nora is predicted to obey Torvald and permit him to form decisions for her; meanwhile, it’s important for Torvald’s career that he’s ready to boast a successful marriage to a dutiful woman.

Yet this is often an act of affection that society condemns, thereby placing the principles of marriage above love. Within the final moments of the play, it’s revealed that Nora’s fear of the key getting out isn’t a fear that she is going to find herself shamed and punished, but rather is predicated on her certainty that Torvald will protect her by taking the blame, and in so doing will ruin himself.

Nora is for certain that beneath the role Torvald is playing, that he loves her even as deeply as she loved him when she secretly broke the principles of society. Of course, Torvald’s reaction reveals that he is not actually “playing a role” at all—he does put his reputation first, and he would never sacrifice it to guardNora. What Nora thought was role-playing was the whole reality. This cements Nora’s disillusionment together with her marriage, and with marriage in general—she involves the conclusion that not only does Torvald love her but that the institution of marriage because it is conceived and practiced in her society. While Krogstad and Mrs. Linde’s joyous option to marry may suggest that the play doesn’t entirely share Nora’s view. It is important to notice that their marriage doesn’t in the least conform to the norms of society. Mrs. Linde yearns for the aim she would get by truly caring from someone she loves, while Krogstad sees Mrs. Linde not as some ornament to reinforce his reputation but because of the source of the salvation of his integrity.

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