Tone of A Doll’s House

Toneof ADoll’s House

Theplay ADoll’s Houseis written by Henrik Ibsen and was published in 1887 in Norway, hishome country. Among his other works, notably an Enemy of the peopleand Heddere Gambler, Henrik Ibsen’s works has a particular periodthat represents different ideas inspiring his creativity. The play ADoll’s Houseis from the period in Henrik’s life that he was preoccupied withhuman relationships, human laws, and the social structures thatexisted, the realism period (Tornqvist 1-6).

Beingborn in a wealthy family that later experienced financial crumbling,Henrik’s life was an ordinary one with holding managerial jobs atTheatres to support his one child family. In this play, thus,Henrik’s analysis of modern drama and issues affecting the familyand individual roles of partners in a marriage need an analysis whensubject to the question of money, fidelity, lies, value, and love.

Availableto the writer’s creativity lays the aspects of stylistic devicesthat render a platy form for an exposition of the underlying message.To understand a stylistic device, therefore, requires an apt and keenstudy of the message or theme to unravel the mystery behind itsusage. This paper will thus research on the tone used in ADoll’s Houseby Henrik Ibsen using techniques as aforementioned (Meyer 1131).

ADoll’s Housedefies the traditional technical approach to drama where part oneoffers exposition, part two plays the roles of placing the situation,and part three offers the unraveling and final broad purpose indrama. Nora and her husband Torvald Helmes are considered opposingcharacters who necessarily must endure the pains of modern regimentsof familiar roles (Ibsen 30). Torvald settles in as the breadwinnerand Nora’s role as a mother and caregiver cannot be understated.The modern challenges of making money and spending lead to characterattack and deep-rooted differences between a woman and a man.Accordingly, Henrik’s presentation of the life in Norway was onethat was guided by traditional practices and laws.

Theposition of women in ADoll’s Houseis one endorsed by a patriarchal society, judged, and rewarded by theviews of men. Nora’s roles and rewards as a wife and a mother aresubjected to Helmes perspective, judgment, and opinions. In the text,Torvald asks Nora, “Hasn’t Miss Sweet Tooth been breaking rulesin town today?” who responds, “No what makes you think likethat?” (Ibsen Section 1). The underlying tone in this exposition isthat condescending and pity against a woman. The daily thoughts andwishes of a man, as well as his inequalities, have a direct bearingover the woman in his life.

Nora’s,problems in her house are as a result of what Torvald thinks andfeels about money and therefore when she takes a carefree attitude onthe same her husband requires and expects total restrain in any kindof overspending. The happiness of Nora is thus controlled only in therealism of men, her husband for that matter. Indeed, when Torvaldannounces of his appointment to the managerial position in the bankfrom a mere clerk, Nora is very happy that she will not ever have a“dull” Christmas again trying to make clothes, items and, giftsfree hand for the whole family. Nora says to Mrs. Linde, “Justfancy my husband has been made manager of the bank!’’ (Ibsensection 1).

Theauthor refers to the imbalances between men and women thusreiterating the belittling and admonishing tone. Women are taken aschildren and Nora perfectly plays this character by massaging herhusband’s ego in his machinations of treating the same. He refersto her as ‘little lark’, ‘sweet little spendthrift’,‘extravagant little person’ little featherhead, Miss Sweet Toothplus more other names. Besides the name indicating romance andplayfulness, the underlying tone is that of belittling and findingone as childish. As a matter of fact, Torvald comments strongly “Thatis woman like” when Nora explains that she would not care about aperson who lent Torvald’s man in case he dies (Ibsen Section 1).This alone interpreted explains the stereotyping of women by the malesociety that Torvald represents.

Italso appears that women must sacrifice their pursuit forself-interests and freedom to please their families. It follows thatNora had to sit for three weeks in preparation for a dull Christmas.Torvald in the ensuing speech observes that Nora was doing that tomake her family happy which is the “main thing” (Ibsen Section1). The need to shake off from the chains of men is the epitome ofIbsen’s play through intense and serious tone.

“Awife cannot borrow without her husband’s consent” is a statementthat aptly explains the somber tone found in the text (Ibsen Section1). While the purpose of such borrowing would be steeped in, takingcare and saving a life its interpretations in the world of men termit improper. The freedom of men is subscribed to no measures exceptto that of men while for women, the measures must be based on men’sstandards. It is a characteristic of Ibsen’s need to portray therealities of his modern world and what problems women were goingthrough.

Indeedthe need for women to rise from this lowest point to determineself-freedom is the underlying central debate of discussion in thisbook.

Accordingto Henrik, the play’s representation of Nora as a serious,open-minded character in section three is the culmination of reality(Tornqvist 85). The reader must realize now that Nora’s world is nomore controlled by Torvald and that self-search for freedom and apersonal cause must inform her action. When she leaves her family andchildren, it a testament to her resolve not be dragged into mudagain, never to be taken jokingly or belittled, rather it is a choiceof what value means in a woman’s life.

Theconflict between genders is thus revealed through intensity tounderstate that women hold the key to person freedom and a pursuit ofhappiness. To reinforce this idea Henrik uses Mrs. Linde andKrogstand relationship a solid evidence for what the relationshipbetween men and women should be. Besides having difficult, flawedbackgrounds the two engage in an open relationship that involves apersonal quest for desires and interests. Christine is never judgedby her past as well as Krogstand, a man who betrays Nora’s secretsfor his own gain though (Meyer 1129).

Thetone is a powerful part of work as in it underlies the creator’svision, thoughts, message and perceived solutions to the presentconditions alive in their work. The play is thus a classicalproponent and fight for women’s position, freedom, value, andimportance in the society.


Ibsen,Henrik. A Doll’s House. Sheba Blake Publishing, 2015. Print.

Meyer,Michael, ed. The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, 4thEdition. St. Martin`s Press, 1996, pp. 1128-1136. Print

Tornqvist,Eigil. Ibsen: A Doll’s House. Cambridge University Press, London,1995. Print.