Perhaps the most crucial theme in A Doll’s House is determinism and free will. It is a theme that encapsulates many of the other themes of the play, and forces the audience of the play to ask the question; to what extent are the characters in play influenced by society?Or are they purely guided by their own free will?. These question could just as easily be applied to the world today as it could in 19th century Europe.
During the play we see much free will being exerted by Nora,. The first time we see evidence of Nora rebelling against the determinism of society is when Torvald is mocking the time that Nora shut herself away working and Nora responds ”I didn’t find it boring,” this simple statement instantly makes it clear to the audience that Nora is not necessarily a typical woman of the time, that she does nocontradicted by her instant return to the standard housewife ”I don’t have to any longer!” Which creates doubt as to whether or not she is still in a deterministic mindset. Throughout the play she continues to rebel against typical views towards women, for example she when she eats macaroons despite them being ”forbidden” she is rebelling against Torvalds objectification of her by exercising her free will as it shows that she has a disregard for Torvalds parent like, patronizing treatment of her, he is assuming that she doesn’t know how to look after herself, which is ironic because we, as an audience know that it was in fact she who has had to look after him. It is not until act 3 that we see the true extent of Nora’s wilfulness, before this point in the play, it has been made clear to the audience that Nora is going to have no choice but to leave the house once Torvald reads Krogstad’s letter, Nora seems very distraught about it, until she realises that her husband is not going to take responsibility for her action upon himself, and at this moment she realises that free will is entirely hers, it’s reminiscent of a child growing up and having to make their own decisions, ”I shall take nothing with me but what is mine” could be interpreted as meaning that she will only take her own thoughts and opinions.
In the play A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen there are three minor characters that have a significant impact on Nora's personality. Krogstad, Dr. Rank and Mrs. Linde have all had a long-standing relationship with the Helmer family, and each one of them plays a role in the development of Nora's character. These are minor characters in the play, but they play a major role in the play. Krogstad is in ...
Torvald’s strong fear of being influenced is seen throughout the play, both when he refuses to reverse his decision on Krogstad ”Give people the idea that I am open to outside influences?…I would soon feel the consequences.”At the same time though, Torvald is more pressured than any other character by his own environment, which is dominated by a strict social code and maintaining one’s reputation at all costs, there is evidence of this in that Torvald is worried of the ”consequences,” which is quite an indirect term, and suggests an inevitability, so could be inferred that Torvald is worried about how society would judge him. Despite Torvalds apparent lack of awareness of how his character has been moulded by his environment, he is very aware of how Nora has been affected by hers,”all your fathers recklessness and instability he has handed on to you” this could suggest that he trying to find something to blame for what has happened rather than Nora herself, and while this suggests that he still loves her, it also shows he hasn’t changed because, he is still overlooking the fact that Nora is capable of independent action and has a free will.
Dr Rank is quite a literal embodiment of determinism, he represents that which is inherited, it is generally agreed that Dr Rank is suffering from congenital syphilis, meaning his father’s actions are probably the reason he has it. A disease which originates in the interactions between man and woman could imply that there is something wrong with the way men and women relate in society, and how this problem is inherent in society, interestingly, despite the apparent shame Dr Rank has for his fathers actions, he himself takes advantage of Nora’s situation and using it as an opportunity to confess his love to Nora, perhaps this is Ibsen suggesting that as well as his body, Dr Rank’s mind is also poisoned .
Themes/Metaphor/Symbol: Act I: Setting: It is important to note that the whole play takes place in one room and that, until the last act, Nora is in every scene; she never seems to leave the room everything comes to her. She is literally trapped in domestic comfort. Also, the first Act takes place on Christmas Eve. However, though there is a great deal of talk about morality throughout the play, ...
A Doll’s House is really about the conflict between society and human nature, Ibsen uses the character of Nora to represent free will, by making her a woman he was able to make a stronger point, as women were the most restricted group in society at the time. Torvalds character represents some of the wrongs in society, but the humanization of these wrongs makes the play more powerful, as it disguising the constraints of 19th century European society as his free will. It is only when Nora sees through this disguise that she is able to be free.