A FEMINIST READING AND SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE OF HENRICK IBSEN’S ‘A DOLL’S HOUSE(2)

The very significance of the title ‘The Doll’s House’ paints an appalling picture of the baselessness of Nora’s existence. She serves as Helmer’s mouth piece, sans a mind of her own. Helmer fails to acknowledge her individuality: he addresses her as ‘skylark’ and ‘squirrel.’ While treating her in this manner he is oblivious of the fact that ‘skylarks’ and ‘squirrels’ are capable of flight. Ibsen portrays the marital status of this couple; Helmer adopts the strategy of a domineering husband. He over rules any room for ‘give and take’ policy where sacrifices were performed by Nora alone. On the verge of tying the knot, the couple swears before the altar that that they would find mutual solaces in one and another, and would be sanctimonious ‘until death does us apart. ’ At fin de siecle, it would be appropriate to refashion this refrain as ‘until male ego does us apart.’ Albeit Nora and Helmer’s relationship apparently revolves around love, in reality it is bereft of love. As I had mentioned earlier, he fails to render her due status in his household by referring her as ‘skylark’ and ‘squirrel.’ He had already obliterated her feminity by his imperious attitude.

He responds negligently when Nora’s act of forging her father’s signature dawns on him, he abstains from realizing Nora’s sacrifice all those years and her indelible love for him. He accuses her of deceit and treachery. He is paranoiac about his lofty status in society being at stake. Instead of soothing her perturbed self he loathes her unmindful of the fact that she forged the signature to save his life. Helmer regains his pampering and patronizing attitude towards Nora, when Krogstad apologizes for the catastrophe thereby exonerating her for the blame. But it is too late and reality has dawned on Nora. She will no longer be sacrosanct by his male ego. His egotistical nature was the paramount reason for the denigration of their marriage. For Nora says, “We have been married now eight years. Does it not occur to you that this is the first time we two, you and I, husband and wife, have had a serious conversation?”

Relationships fail to thrive sans an enhanced communication. There was absolutely no room for communication in Nora and Helmer’s life. Nora conceals her act of obtaining a loan from Krogstad for seven long years. It sheds light on the superficiality of their relationship where a great degree of magnanimity on her part has been glossed over. She says to Kristine:

“………..how painful and with his manly independence, to know that he owed to me anything”