A Summary of Henrik Ibsen’s Play A Doll’s House (A KCSE setbook)

A Summary of Henrik Ibsen’s Play A Doll’s House
The play which takes place in Helmer Torvald and Nora’s house explores the perceived role women play in society versus the real role they play that is often overlooked. Helmer, Nora’s husband, has just started serving as a bank manager. Being a housewife with no income of her own, Nora depends on her husband financially. At the beginning of the play, Nora is portrayed as an extravagant and materialistic housewife who incessantly nags the husband for more money. As such, Helmer and Mrs. Linde, Nora’s childhood schoolmate and friend, perceive Nora as a spoilt woman.
Unknown to them, Nora has a secret which has a direct bearing on her behaviour. Earlier on in their marriage, Helmer had fallen sick and needed to go overseas for treatment but they could not afford. Nora was forced to forge her father’s signature to secure a loan from Krogstard in order to take the husband for treatment. She had to forge her father’s signature (who was sick at the time) to get the loan since women were forbidden to take loans without men’s consent. Krogstard who has questionable moral standing notices Nora’s deception and uses it to blackmail Nora in an effort to keep his banking job when Helmer (the new bank manager) threatens to fire him. Unfortunately Nora cannot dissuade the husband from firing Krogstard and as a result, Krogstard reveals Nora’s secret to Helmer through a letter.
Nora realizes that her husband of eight years was not willing his honour for her as she would have done in his place. This is disappointing because she thought she knew Helmer well. It also dawns on Nora that all along, she has never been her own person; as a child and daughter she had been her father’s doll and as an adult she had been Helmer’s doll. She realizes that in her whole life she had been treated as a plaything; and had never been given a chance to think for herself and be herself. Therefore, she resolves to leave her husband and children behind as she sets out to find herself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *