Doll House is a play written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879. It was set in undisclosed town in Denmark. It revolves around the life of Nora who was married to Helmer Torvald who she describes as a male chauvinist bully husband. This paper gives a critical analysis and interpretation of the play with much emphasis on the controversial ending.
To begin with, the ending of Doll House was done in such a way that could not be accepted in the theatre halls for action. This compelled Ibsen to review it and offer a more accepted alternative one. However, this has also been subjected to lots of interpretations by various literary scholars. In page 114, Helmer says, ‘Empty. She's gone. A sudden hope leaps in him. The greatest miracle..?’ I would like to say that the events which took place towards the end of this play were quite extraordinary. It was miraculous for Helmer who had believed in the superiority of women to imagine that his wife, Nora could assertively advocate for her own rights. Over the years, he had been subjecting her to lots of brutalities and yet she was not expected to complain.
However, she has now changed her mind and wants to be given time to repackage her life. She tells him to his face that he had been a selfish hypocritical husband who did not care about morality, but much concerned about public reputation. He did not care about her and the children. Neither did he listen to her pieces of advice regarding major decisions in their family. At the same time, he was not appreciative for the good things she had done to him. For instance, even after informing him that she as ready to commit suicide so as to save his public image, he never thanked her.
In this regard, I think that Helmer was justified to describe this situation as a great miracle. He used it to show sympathy to a section of his audience who was not aware of the agonies faced by Nora. Besides, it helps to inform them about the changes the society is undergoing. The institution of marriage which has been oppressive to women, can be transformed. People can change their attitudes to look at women as dignified people who equally have an important contribution to make. However, there only needs to be people like Nora to act as agents of change.
On the other hand, the sound of the door slamming shut is also symbolically used in the play. It indicated the door has been closed to mark the end of an era. Over the years, women have been downtrodden by their male counterparts. They have been regarded as inferior creatures who should be subjected to perpetual oppression by the ‘inferior’ male folk. This is the ordeals which befell characters like Nora and Christine. They are denied all the rights and are expected to be submissive at all times. For instance, Christine was mistreated both by her father and husband. She was also forced into marriage in order to save her ailing mum and younger siblings from poverty. Hence, the shutting of the door marks the transition between this life and a better one in which women like Nora abandons their luggage to start a better life characterized by freedom, self-discovery and bliss.
Conclusively, the above position helps me to look at the book as more objectively. The struggles undergone by Nora clearly indicate liberation for a revolution. The play does not only focus on gender equity, but goes deeper to demonstrate the theme of self-discovery. Nora accepts to do everything in the pursuit of her freedom and self-awareness. This is why she opts to forsake her husband and children and flee.