Constrained by the ones closest to you All societies have expectations and societal norms that guide the way individuals act. Often individuals closest to us, determine to what extent a person follows these societal conventions. In Henrick Ibsen’s play A Doll’s house, characters closest to one another have enormous amounts of influence on one another and how they fit into societal norms. The play commences with Torvald and Nora having a discussion; Already we see Torvald’s view on Nora. As the play continues, we see the fight Nora has between accepting societal expectations and being her on person.
When one is constrained by societal conventions, it is difficult to escape these societal norms as they may not realize that are constrained; However once they realize they may need to take significant risks and possibly even leave those who keep you under societies conventions. When an individual is constrained by societal conventions all there life, they may not always come to realize it right away. This was the case with Nora throughout part of the play. In the beginning, Nora was held to Societal conventions strictly through the actions and words of her husband, Torvald.
When Act 1 commences, it is shown that the way he addresses her gives a him a tone of authority towards her as well as treating her like a possession. He continually calls her names such as skylark, his squirrel, and sqaunderbird. These names and the way that Torvald addresses Nora represents the Societal conventions that surrounded them (The man is the leader and a woman is a possession). Early on there are also many instances in which the reader is shown how Nora has no say in the relationship. When Nora argues about how they should spend there money, Torvald quickly rejects her and patronizingly says, ” Oh Nora, Nora, How like a woman!
No, but seriously, Nora, you know how I feel about this. No debts! Never borrow! A home that is founded on debts and borrowing can never be a place of freedom and beauty” (173). Torvald gave Nora little say in the decision as shown by what he says. This also shows the Irony evident throughout the play as Nora had taken a huge amount of money from Krogstad as a debt and Torvald has not been aware of this yet. As well, this conversation with Torvald shows the huge societal conventions placed on women–and what Nora has to go through–at the time the play was written.
The quote talks about how she was just like a woman to be ignorant to these problems and quick to spend. This is just another representation of the constraints that hold Nora back. However, there is evidence that Nora may not always realize these constraints as when one is held in these societal conventions for her whole life. Regardless of how Torvald treats Nora, she continues to love him and listen to whatever he has to say. After Torvald revokes her idea about borrowing money, Nora right away listens to him and concedes,” Very well, Torvald. As you say” (173).
Nora continually listens to Torvald even though he gives Nora no say on matters. In the beginning of A doll’s house, Nora doesn’t realize the societal conventions placed on her by Torvald; However as the play continues, Nora starts to realize that she is being controlled and starts to value independence. Nora is severely held by societal conventions, however, as the play continues she starts to attempt at breaking the chains that hold her back. The audience first sees Nora’s attempt at being independent and break societal conventions right after she talks to torvald about borrowing money.
The reader finds out that Nora hides the bag of macaroons from Torvald as he wouldn’t be happy with her choice to buy it. When Torvald asks if she bought anything, she replies, “No, Torvald, I promise you, honestly… ” (175). Nora lies about the macaroons because of what Torvald would have thought. If Torvald would have found out, he would have addressed her as a spendthrift. However, this has also shown the independence Nora wants to have. She wants to be able to make decisions on her own. As well, there is significant foreshadowing evident in this conversation between Torvald and Nora.
It is foreshadowing the information that Nora keeps from Torvald later in the play. As Nora increasingly becomes desperate for independence and vearns to break out of societal conventions; She also starts to become more upright with Torvald on how he feels. One night when Torvald is addressing Nora in a way you would command a possession, Nora snaps and says, “Leave me, Torvald! Get away from me!! don’t want all this” (220). Nora starts to realize what she truly is to Torvald and is trying to break the societal conventions that are constraining her.
However this is difficult as Torvald is so engrossed with how there relationship is, that he won’t change. Nora is starting to realize that she needs to change how she is being treated, as the play goes on, Nora starts to take more drastic measures to free herself from the Societal conventions that hold her. As the play draws to an end, readers see Nora’s independence shining through and her timidness towards Torvald is gone. After Krogstad’s letter is read and Torvald addresses Nora and is vindictive to her, she realizes this is the moment to break out of the societal conventions that he holds her to.
As she changes her dress she remarks, “Yes, torvald, I’ve changed” (227). This simple line by Nora plays a huge part of the play. It not only represents the change in her mind–that she desires to be independent and free–but also the evident change in Torvald’s relationship. Nora has fully realized that her relationship with Torvald is not healthy and that she values her independence. As well, later on in her and Torvald’s argument, She compares their relationship to that of her and her father’s, “When I lived with papa, he used to tell me what he thought about everything, so that I never had any opinions but his. And if
I did have any of my own, I kept them quiet, because he wouldn’t have liked them” (227). Comparing Torvald and Nora’s father emphasizes the social conventions that have constrained her all her life. She now realizes this and takes actions to stop this. In the end, Nora leaves Torvald to be free of the societal conventions that he imposes on her. Although she has been with Torvald for a long time, Nora realizes now that the whole time Torvald has constrained her. In a society at this time, Nora is taking a huge risk by leaving her husband. In this era, the man in the relationship is usually the one who supports the woman.
However, Nora shows the audience that one does not have to follow the societal conventions that are placed on her. She is willing to take risks to be independent and control her own life. Societal conventions can have major influence in an individual’s life; It is up to the individual whether they will accept these constraints or fight them. Many individuals live constrained in society without evening knowing it. However once one does, it takes risks and possibly even leaving one closest to you to truly live unconstrained and not under the imprisonment of societal conventions.
Initially, Nora didn’t see the constraints that held her; Which was because of the actions and words of Torvald. However as the play continued it is shown that Nora starts to see the societal conventions that surround her. By the end of the play, Nora breaks out of the Constraints that were held on her. She becomes independent and is not held by Societal conventions. Societal conventions can inhibit a person’s way of living life. When an individual starts to try and live without these constraints, it can not only give them true happiness but also develop them into there own person.