A Doll's House

By Henrik Ibsen

Translated by Rolf Fjelde

This is Taylor Hobart's, Carmen Wilson's, Hallie Childers', and Chelsey Porter's page for A Doll's House
A Doll’s House- A Marxist Perspective on Act I- The Social Positions of Important Characters
Hallie Childers- First Blog Post
In the first act of A Doll’s House, we are introduced to the main characters in the play. First we meet Nora, a young and naïve wife and mother of three small children in a small England town. The first thing she does is pay a delivery boy for bringing a Christmas tree. “There’s a crown. No, keep the change.” She then tells her maid to keep the tree out of sight of the children. Straight off, you can tell that Nora is in a higher level of society. She has a maid, and is having someone deliver a tree for her, and then tipping them. In the next few lines, Nora’s husband Torvald is introduced. He sees the many packages that Nora has brought home and asks, “Has the little spendthrift been out throwing money around again?” (p. 1714). He is busy at work in study, too concerned with his work to spend much time with Nora and her many packages. Yet, based on their conversation, you can tell that the family is struggling for money. Nora says, “Oh yes, Torvald, we can squander a little now. Can’t we? Just a tiny, wee bit. Now that you’ve got a big salary and are going to make piles and piles of money.” He responds, “Yes- starting New Year’s. But then it’s a full three months till the raise comes through.” “Pooh, We can borrow that long,” Nora says. In society, Nora believes she is in the highest level, and that she can do whatever she pleases, even when her husband has clearly told her to not spend so much because of their money trouble. Later on, we meet Kristine, an old friend of Nora’s. She is a widow, and came to Nora looking for a job. Nora treats her as a friend, but one who isn’t on the same level in society as her own. She treats Kristine like a charity case, and promises a job for her at the bank where her husband is beginning work. Also introduced is Dr. Rank, a close friend of Torvald’s. He is single, but as a doctor, he is on the same high level of society as the Helmer family. Then we meet Krogstad. He is a lawyer out of work, much like Torvald was before becoming bank manager. He is trying to work his way up in society; he asks Torvald for a job. When he is refused, he comes to Nora, and reveals her greatest secret. She committed fraud when borrowing money from Krogstad for a trip to Italy to “save” her husband’s life. The cost, believed by Torvald to have been inherited from Nora’s dead father, exceeded any sane amount. Krogstad, in a state of distress from not receiving a job from Nora’s husband, tells Nora that she is going to tell Torvald about the money unless she gets him a job at the bank. Krogstad is desperate to be in the same level of society as the Helmer’s, and he will do anything to get there.

A Marxist Perspective on Act II of A Doll’s House- How far will Krogstad go to reach the top?
Hallie Childers- Second Blog Post
In the first act of A Doll’s House, we learn about Krogstad. His reputation as a lawyer was ruined by a conviction of forgery, and now he is blackmailing Nora, our main character, on the same charge to get a job at the bank her husband is newly employed at. Nora is willing to do anything to prevent her husband from learning about the money she borrowed from Krogstad by forging her father’s signature on the paperwork two days after he passed on. In Act II, Nora goes to see Krogstad to understand his cause. In the play, Krogstad doesn’t seem to want the rest of his money paid back to him; he is keeping the whole situation under wraps- playing the situation up as much as possible just to have something over Nora. He says, “If you stood in front of me with a fistful of bills, you still couldn’t buy your signature back.” She responds, “Then tell me what you are going to do with it.” “I’ll just hold onto it- keep it on file,” he says back (1742). Krogstad then tells Nora about the letter he is going to soon deliver to her husband, telling everything about the situation. She desperately offers him more money, plus the rest of what she owes him, but he wants “to recoup, Mrs. Helmer; I want to get on in the world- and there’s where your husband can help me. For a year and half I’ve kept myself clean of anything disreputable- all that time struggling with the worst conditions; but I was satisfied, working my way step by step. Now I’ve been written right off, and I’m just not in the mood to come crawling back. I tell you, I want to move on. I want to get back in the bank- in a better position. Your husband can set up a job for me-“
“He’ll never do that!” (Nora)
“He’ll do it. I know him. He wont dare breathe a word of protest. And once I’m in there together with him, you just wait and see! Inside of a year, I’ll be the manager’s right-hand man. It’ll be Nils Krogstad, not Torvald Helmer, who runs the bank.”
“You’ll never see the day!” (1743).
Seeing Krogstad’s true cause, Nora gets the courage to stand up to Krogstad, but he goes on to threaten her life if she doesn’t try to get him the job. She has no choice but to do what he asks. Krogstad is willing to threaten Nora’s happiness, her livlihood, and even her life… How far will he actually go to become a member of high society again? Will he achieve his goal?

A Marxist Perspective on Act III of A Doll’s House- The End in Relation to the Marxist Perspective
Hallie Childers- 3rd Blog Post
In the beginning of Act III, Kristine and Krogstad are speaking to each other about their past relationship, which Kristine ended to marry someone else who had the means to support her, her helpless mother, and two small brothers. This is another explanation of why Krogstad is so desperate to be in a higher social class- he wants to be the man with the money instead of the man who was left behind. In the story, Kristine took the job at the bank that Torvald was first going to give to Krogstad. From a Marxist perspective, giving Kristine the job over Krogstad doesn’t seem logical because she is a woman. Somehow Krogstad moves on from the situation, and Kristine and he end up agreeing to start a life together. Kristine’s social position as a widow will drastically change. She says, “How different! Someone to work for, to live for- a home to build. Well, it is worth the try!” (1750). In this act, Torvald is continuing to play to Nora’s every wish- until he reads Krogstad’s letter telling the truth about Nora’s loan. Then he becomes the man of Nora’s nightmare- someone she didn’t know as her husband. She begins to realize that she is the doll, and the house belongs to Torvald- not to her. In the final conversatioin between the two, she says, “I’ve been wronged greatly… You never loved me. You’ve thought it fun to be in love with me, that’s all” (1757). Nora then decides to step out of her position as the wife and mother figure- the secure home she has with Torvald, and get an education by her own means. From a Marxist perspective, Nora gave up her high social position to find herself. Torvald will become a single father, with all the money in the world- but no wife to share it with, which also lowers his social status. This tragedy was all about money, love, and lack of money and love, and how either can lead to a character’s downfall from a high social class.

external image DollsHouse.04.21.05.jpg

A Doll's House Log 1- Formalist

Money seems to be an issue in this story. Nora can’t seem to get enough. As soon as Torvald gives her a small amount, she spends it before she puts it in her pocket. Torvald just got a promotion at the bank where he works and will be bringing home a bigger salary. Nora is excited about his raise and asked to spend more once his raise kicks in. This shows Nora feels secure when her household is well off. Nora convinces her husband that she needs more money and he always gives in, even though their money is getting tight.
Nora is later visited by an old friend, Kristine Linde. Mrs. Linde is an unemployed widow. After talking for awhile, Nora declares that she was forced to borrow money in order to take a trip to Italy and save her husband’s life. Nora had to forge her dying father’s signature to secure the loan for the money. Her husband doesn’t know that Krogstad lent her the forty-eight hundred crowns for her trip. Since Mrs. Linde is seeking a job, Torvald replaces Krogstad with Mrs. Linde.

Nora appears to be an ideal wife for Torvald, although he controls her. He manages what she eats and the amount of money she gets to spend. Torvald is the governing partner in their marriage. Nora has to hide her loan from him since Torvald would never accept the truth about his wife helping to save his life. She secretly has to work to pay off her loan given that it is illegal for a woman to obtain a loan without the consent of her husband. Because of her earlier decision, Nora is left being blackmailed by Krogstad.