At the end of A Doll’s House, Nora decides that she hasn’t been herself throughout her and Torvalds marriage and she decides to leave him and her children. Nora tells him that she no longer loves him and that the maids know what to do because they now more about the house and her children than she even does. The audience changes their views on Nora from being the trophy doll to looking at her as the selfish woman who ruined her family because she abandoned her husband and children.
Torvald is in shock that she is actually leaving because he never expected her to be strong enough and walk out on him or her children but Nora says to him, “Listen, Torvald; when a wife deserts her husbands house, as I’m doing now, I’ve heard that the law frees him from any responsibility to her. And anyway, I’m freeing you. From everything. Complete freedom on both sides. See here’s your ring. Give me mine (The Norton Anthology of Drama, 247).
The fact that Nora has the audacity to walk out on her children and husband even though it goes against nineteenth century views of women it shows the audience how Nora is a strong, powerful woman who does not need a husband to control her. The original A Doll’s House by Henrik Isben got a lot of reviews after the world premiere in Copenhagen on December 21, 1879. There were many positive reviews and negative reviews. I believe that this play made some women see that they should be treated as equal human beings to their husband. A Doll’s House production also brought to life the aspects of society that are incorrect due to sexism.
As one review says, “Who after seeing this play, has the courage to speak scornfully about runaway wives? Is there anyone who does not feel that it is this young and delightful young woman’s duty, her inescapable duty, to leave this gentleman, this husband, who slowly sacrifices her on the altar of his egotism, and who fails to understand her value as a human being. His invocation of religion and morality and consideration of people’s gossip sounds, in the face of the resolute woman’s indignation, like the most hollow and empty phrases” (Akerholt, Social-Demokraten).
The audience even noticed that Torvald treated Nora like she was a child and only had the time of day for her when she was dancing in front of him. Nora even made a comment to Torvald about having to make up her mind to do what’s best for her rather than society. This comment Nora made, made the audience realize that Nora knew what she was about to do went against the norms of 1879 and she would be judged as a mother and wife but she had to do what was best for herself. Nora decided that what was best for herself was her to leave the “Doll’s House” that she was living in with Torvald because it reminded her of the way her father treated her.
Nora says to Torvald before she leaves, “I mean, I went from Papa’s hands into yours. You set up everything according to your taste; so of course I had the same taste, or | pretended to, l’m not really sure. I think it was half-and-half, one as much as the other. Now that I look back on it, I can see that I’ve lived like a beggar in this house, from hand to mount; I’ve lived by doing tricks for you, Torvald. But that’s how you wanted it. You and Papa have committed a great sin against me. It’s your fault that I’ve become what I am (The Norton Anthology of Drama, 244).
Nora is a strong and independent woman who does not want to feel like a doll to Torvald any longer so she makes the decision to leave. Henrik Isben established himself in the world of theatre by being an author of shock, confrontation, and revolt. Henrik Isben chose to write his drama A Doll’s House, to deal with the contemporary Norwegian world, “Whereas his earliest dramas had dealt with history, he now chose to write, once and for all, about the contemporary world he knew best-namely, the contemporary Norwegian middle class—in prose, not verse.
His single purpose was to lay bare the ugly reality behind the facade of middle class respectability, to expose the lies of bourgeois characters and indeed of bourgeois society as a whole” (The Norton Anthology of Drama, 195). When Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House in 1879 Nora Helmer leaves her husband Torvald Helmer and her three children at the end of act three because she says that she needs to do what is best for her. In 1879, a woman leaving her husband and children was looked down upon because Nora was considered Torvalds’s property and women didn’t just up and leave their children.
Today in 2015 women leaving there husbands and children is an acceptable act because the culture has changed over a hundred plus years. A Doll’s House was a very successful play by Henrik Ibsen, “One reason for this success was the plays notorious ending, which violated nineteenth century views of marriage and the family” (Ibsen, 195). Nineteenth century views of marriage and family were for women to marry and have children while the husband takes care of the family. For example, “married women were not able to obtain a divorce if they discovered that their husbands had been unfaithful.
Once divorced, the children became the man’s property and the mother could be prevented from seeing her children” (Simkin, Marriage in the 19th Century). This is why at the end of the play when Nora walked out on her family the audience made Nora out to be the bad character and people disagreed about the ending that Isben chose for his play A Doll’s House. Actors would not want to play Nora’s part because they were outraged that Nora would leave her children and they refused to play the part.
In 1880 Henrik Isben decided that he didn’t want to change the original ending but he would rewrite a less dramatic ending, “Isben offered an alternate ending where Nora does not leave. The curtain instead falls after Torvald shows Nora the children and she sinks to the ground” (Schaefle, Production History- A Doll’s House). This alternate ending that Isben creates in 1880 does not have Nora violating the nineteenth century views of marriage and family, but it also isn’t the original A Doll’s House play that got all the controversy.
A Doll’s House was such a controversial play because it was one of the first feminist plays. Some theatres and cities did not allow the original script to be performed therefore the script has been changed many times over the years. In 2007 there was a production of A Doll’s House at the Edinburgh Festival. Mabou Mines Theatre Company put on this production, “In which dwarves played all the male roles to play with gender bias in Nora’s society. This radical rendition increased the ludicrousness of Torvalds’s insistence on patronizing his “poor little Nora” (Schaefle, Production History- A Doll’s House).
I believe that having dwarves play all the male roles really showed the gender bias in A Doll’s House because in 1879 women had very little rights but when this production came out in 2007 women had more rights and were looked at as equal in society to the men. I believe that Mabou Mines Theatre Company decided to use dwarves for the male roles because even though they are human beings they get treated differently than a normal looking human being. In conclusion, Nora becomes a strong-willed, self-empowering, independent woman by the end of A Doll’s House.
Henrik Isben uses Nora to show the audience that women should have equal rights as the men and that there is gender bias in the society in 1879. That is why he ends the play with Nora leaving her husband and children to show the audience that women do not need a man and that she is not afraid of what society is going to think of her even though what she did is against society’s norms. Nora goes from being Torvalds’s doll to being a strong, independent, self-empowering woman.