Posted: June 19th, 2021
The relationship between the two main characters of Nora and Helmer in “A Doll’s House” are established through the dialogue and stage directions which take place in Act One. The relationship is very representative of the time period in which it is set, Helmer, the husband is the head of the household and is the most important in the family status he controls the family’s lifestyle according to his own views. In order to convey Torvald’s authority in the relationship, Ibsen uses first person possessive pronouns, for example, ‘Is that my little squirrel frisking about? , the use of ‘my’ reflects the ownership that Torvald has over Nora, this links to the ideologies of society at the time were a man owned his wife in the relationship and that a man Just as the pre-modifying adjective ‘little’ undermines Nora’s authority in their relationship and emphasises his power over her. Ibsen also depicts the idea that Nora is in Torvald’s household for his own enjoyment by referring to her as a pet, ‘My pretty little pet is very sweet but it runs away with an awful lot of money’, To him, she is only a possession.
Torvald calls Nora by pet-names and speaks down to her because he thinks that she is not intelligent and that she can not think on her own. Whenever she begins to voice an opinion Torvald quickly drops the pet-names and insults her as a women through comments like; “worries that you couldn’t possibly help me with,” and “Nora, Nora, just like a woman. “(1565) Torvald is a typical husband in his society. He denied Nora the right to think and act the way she wished.
He required her to act like an imbecile and insisted upon the rightness of his view in all matters. The relationship between the two main characters of Nora and Helmer in “A Dolls House” are established through the diologue and stage directions which take place in Act One. The relationship between the characters is quite simplistic, derived from the 1870s time period in which it is set. Helmer, the husband is the head of the household and is the most important in the family status, he controls the families lifestyle according to his own views.
This is depicted through Helmer’s actions and diologue towards Nora. Nora has respect for her husband and “goes cautiously to her husbands door and listens” rather than disturb him to find out if he his home. She also listens to his advice and tries to include him in her everyday chores “Come see what vie bought”. Helmer treats her as a child calling her “scatter brain” and “my lost squirrel” giving the impression of ownership, and that she is in ‘his’ household for his enjoyment.
Throughout the scene Helmer continues to use pet names such as “feather brain” and “sulking squirrel” which undermine Nora’s authority in their relationship and emphasis his power over her. When Nora arrives home from shopping in town Helmer asks “has featherbrain been out wasting money again”, making Nora appear as a foolish girl who has no knowledge of money and that she spends it unknowingly, which shows Hemler’s perception of her. Helmer’s controlling relationship is also shown through their discussion of money early on in Act 1.
Although both have conflicting ideas on spending money at christmas time, Nora eventually gives in to his opinion “very well if you say so”. This emphasizes how she adapts to suit his point of view even though she disagrees with the idea herself. She obeys and changes her own opinions to match Helmer’s showing that she has no way to stand up to defend her own beliefs in the relationship, meaning that her own views are forgotten and ignored.
Helmer believes he is superior and that he must “protect her” as she is so delicate and unexperienced that he must decide all of the aspects of her life without consulting her, he appears to dictate his opinions to her “no debts, no borrowing”, his views soon become the reality and laws of the household as Nora replies to him that she “would never do anything you didn’t like” . Helmer’s protective and controlling nature lead to his ideas being imposed on Nora through their relationship despite her beliefs, leaving no room for confliction.
Which causes Noras’ deception from Helmer, rather than telling him the truth which he will not accept, she decides to hide information from him. This means that although they are married, their relationship is not very deep and meaningful, since Helmer doesn’t consult the details of their lifestyle with Nora, which means she cannot express her ideas and show her traits through their lifestyle and therefore she has no knowledge of law or the world around her. This is highlighted when Helmer asks Nora what she wants as a present, rather than giving her a surprise.
Showing that he has no knowledge of her interests as their duties to the family are completely separate. However Helmer seems to be infatuated by her in the play as he “follows her” around the kitchen and talks to her, showing that he is in love with her. Helmer depicts her as a lover and yet he is unable to consult with her the issues of their married life, leaving her no concerns and no knowledge of law or the world around her. Which leads to the deterioration of their relationship as Nora discovers she needs to express herself and therefore seeks to escape the stifling confines of his opinions.
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