Appearances can be deceptive; Characters in Henrik Ibsen’s A Dolls House

Appearances can be deceptive; Characters in Henrik Ibsen’s A Dolls House
Question: Appearances can be deceptive. Support this statement from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.
People often make assumptions of others’ character based on first impressions. Many times the first impression may be misleading because it does not reveal people’s motivation and circumstance that led to their apparent behavior. Also, some people conceal their true character to impress others. To understand people, therefore, it is important to look beyond the first impression. Likewise, characters in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House seem to project a deceptive outward appearance which contradicts their true character and intentions.
Krogstad at the onset of the text is presented as an immoral person but at the end of the play he is a caring and considerate man. When Krogstad comes in when the play starts Rank says he is an immoral man and he is a man of questionable character. Indeed he confirms this when he starts to blackmail Nora into retaining his job at the bank and goes ahead to say he has a reputation as a blackmailer. Towards the end of the play, Christine goes back to him and promises to stay with him and this pledge of love and companionship changes Krogstad. He promises to change his ways and starts by returning the bond to the Helmer’s thus at the end he proves to be not only a good man but also considerate.
Torvald at the beginning of the play appears to be a morally upright man but towards the end he appears as a coward and selfish. When Nora mentions to Torvald about borrowing a loan to survive, he refuses and asks Nora that they should keep bravely on the straight road. This shows that he prefers honesty and a morally upright life. He also despises Krogstad when he says he feels literally ill when in the presence of such people as Krogstad is known for being an extortionist and blackmailer. When Torvald gets Krogstad’s letter he appears to be no different from Krogstad and is willing to do whatever Krogstad wants unlike what he says earlier about being ill around blackmail. It also appears that he hid Nora’s father’s similar crimes. Towards the end he turns out to be a coward and immoral unlike what he stands for at the beginning of the play.
Nora is presented as a naïve woman but turns out to be independent and self-conscious. Like a doll, she is passive and does things to please her husband who thinks she is a spendthrift. As the play progresses, it reveals that Nora is independent and wiser than she appears. She procured a loan by herself to take her husband to Italy for his own health and well-being. Nora has been working to repay the loan without her husband’s knowledge and is about to clear it. Contrary to the submissiveness she projects at the beginning of the play, Nora displays her agency when she challenges gender biased laws in her society that deny women the right to make critical social and financial decisions like obtaining a loan. Knowing that her husband would not agree to taking a loan Nora unilaterally decided to forge her father’s signature to obtain one. When she realizes that her husband would never sacrifice his image for her, Nora decides to leave him. Thus, at the end of the play, Nora proves to be independent and knowledgeable, and not the “doll” Linde and Anne think she is.
Lastly, Dr. Rank is a bosom friend to Torvald but at the end of the play he reveals his lust towards Nora, Torvald’s wife.. He is always at the Helmer’s home and spends a lot of time with Torvald especially. He is also Nora’s confidant as she tells him things that her husband could not listen to. During one of their chats with Nora he confesses his undying love of Nora and even goes ahead to flirt with her. This shocks Nora as he even offers to do anything for her to please her. This is unexpected for Dr. Rank ,whom Torvald considers a close friend, to confess his love openly to Nora. Rank seems to have stuck to Torvald as a friend for the sole purpose of being close to Nora. Rank therefore appears to be a hypocrite.
This essay has illustrated that Ibsen’s characters are complex and cannot be understood without taking a closer look at their motivations and intentions. A closer look at Nora, Trovals, Krogstad and Rank reveals characters that contradict the first impression they project at the beginning of the play.

An essay by Chris Hani Misama Ogweno (

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