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A Dolls House

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Introduction

From the book Literature and the Writing Process 9th Ed, the play A Doll’s House has been chosen. The drama A Doll’s House is a tragedy in which there lived about 1850, in a small town, a man with extravagant taste. As such, being a spendthrift, the man was always in debt and always subject to accusations of dishonesty. Being a widower, the man had a daughter as an only child whom he loved. The child, Nora by name was also reputed to having characteristics similar to those of her father. In the play, she is the protagonist, the heroine and the playwright’s mouthpiece.

Summary

Nora has a friend and school mate by the name of Christina who is in possession of moral strength and courage than any other character in the play. While Nora marries Mr. Torvald Helmer, Christina heartlessly forsakes her true love, Mr. Krogstad by means of a handwritten letter. This, Christine does to marry Mr. Linden who is richer and thus able to help Christina with the shouldering her family burdens: her sick mother and her brothers who are still school going and financially dependent. Both Christina and Krogstad end up in unhappy marriages though Christina’s marriage ends prematurely with the death of Mr. Linden. With Mr. Torvald having become an alcoholic and suffering ill health, Nora’s family is sent to Italy following Torvald’s compulsory leave in Italy. 

As Mr. Torvald’s ill health proceeds, the family becomes bankrupt, thereby compelling Nora to forge her father’s signature three days after his death so as to secure a loan with which the threat of poverty can be parried away. The loan application is effected by Krogstad who willfully, genuinely and compassionately overlooks Nora’s shortcomings and failure to make the loan application appear shielded from detection. In the meantime, Krogstad also yields to the temptation of forgery as a way of securing a loan to take care of his family which at the time is seriously eking a living. After the family, full fledged with three children makes it back from Italy; Torvald is appointed the head of the Joint Stock Bank of Christiania. Her mother and her husband having passed on and her brothers now financially dependent, Christina comes back to her motherland to ask Nora help her access a job. Having been approached by Nora about Christine, Torvald is intent on sacking Mr. Krogstad.

At the point reached above, Krogstad informs Nora that she will let her forgery out. This act, he accompanies with a note he places at Mr. Torvald’s desk. A quarrel erupts between Nora and Torvald; with the latter accusing the former of being a criminal, a hypocrite and an infidel- that Nora secured the loan to help him and their family, notwithstanding.  It is at this point that Nora comes face to face with the real personality of Torvald. Ultimately, Nora commits suicide, having left the three children she sired with Torvald in Anna’s hands.  

Argument on the Theme That the Playwright Advanced    

One of the themes that have been mooted in the play is the goodness. The goodness in this case refers to the moral virtue that an individual possesses intrinsically as opposed to the outward manifestation of this goodness. While the former is seen to be the true goodness, the latter is seen as a stark portrayal or manifestation of hypocrisy. The two cases are clearly portrayed in the persons of Torvald and his wife Nora. From the façade, Nora and Krogstad are apparently fraudsters, while Torvald, a culturally polished man who is seemingly, totally above reproach. This is because; Nora forges her father’s signature, while Torvald is ready and willing to sack Mr. Krogstad because of his forgery, so that a better individual can fill the vacancy at the Joint Stock Bank of Christiania.

Nevertheless, a closer look at the play and the plot reveals an alternative rendition of judgment. Nora and Krogstad in their past had never participated in fraud, except in the situation whereby they see their families in financial straits. On the other hand, despite the fact that Nora participated in an act of fraud, Torvald is not appreciative of the fact that it is the need to save him and the family that compelled Nora into such as an act. On the contrary, it is clear that Torvald is so much taken in his self righteousness such that he is not able to bring to account, the fact that it is his sickness and the subsequent inability to fend for the family that had necessitated the act of fraud that Nora participated in. it is this inability to reason logically that brings Torvald out as irrational and unrealistic. As a matter of fact, the same weakness makes Mr. Torvald lose his family completely: Nora, his wife commits suicide, while the children are given to Nora’s nanny, Anna (Alexander, 75).

At the same time, from the same play, the conflict in the diverse ways in which an act may be judged as being ethically wrong or right is revisited. Given that utilitarians define a right act as that which would be beneficial and brining about the happiness and gain of many, Nora would be judged as being right: her act of forgery secures the financial stability of the family and succors it from the rigors of financial hardship. A utilitarian will divulge on the same, while maintaining that from the loan that Nora secured, workers to the Torvald’s family received their wages as money circulated into the entire economy. A deontologist may also excuse Nora’s act of forgery, while considering the duty she had as the vicegerent the family, second to Torvald who at this point was incapacitated. Nevertheless, those who apply to virtue ethics and moral idealism are bound to differ with Nora and the choice she made as the way out of the family’s financial distress (Lewis, 56).

At this juncture, if passing judgment on Nora’s act may be inevitable, her act that appears fraudulent may be excusable. This is because, at the heart of it all, the bad debt would be accredited to her father who was already deceased. This means that no one would have suffered loss in the case of the loan materializing. Arguing that the bank would be subjected to the loss emanating from the bad debt does not suffice, given that banks make huge profit in capitalist societies from off the clients. Normally, this profit is made through the exacting of extra charges such as high interest rates on clients. Thus, in sundry ways, banks always have diverse means of making staggering profits (Schatia, 22).

At the heart, it is apparent that Nora’s forgery and fraud as a means to an end was not necessitated by self interest. On the contrary, Nora was interested in consolidating her family from the dangers that financial distress may bring. In no way is bank fraud to be excused or vouched for, but being bereft of any other possible means out of the financial impasse, Nora was bound to give in to the basic instinct of self preservation.

Another theme that the playwright is interested in is the place of fate in human life and existence. From the plot, it is obvious that the playwright paints fate as being very pervasive and whimsical that it chooses whomsoever it victimizes: the personality, temperance and moral standing of an individual or character herein do not count. From the play, the character with the greatest moral courage and strength is Christina (Mrs. Linden), yet fate conspires against her and cons her of happy life. Though good-natured and mistakenly leaves Krogstad for the sake of her family, she ends a victim of an unhappy marriage.

Besides these facts above, Christina becomes a widow at a very early age and her desire for, and attempts at getting a better and stable job catalyses the unfolding of a bigger tragedy in her friends’ lives. The same is true of Krogstad. He is a good man but Christina, the one time love of his life leaves him coldheartedly for a richer man, Mr. Linden. Even after he takes courage to pick up the pieces and move on, he suffers at the hands of an unhappy marriage. Like Nora, surrounded by a barrage of financial needs for the family his attempt at securing the family from the distress becomes tantamount to the opening of Pandora Box. This almost leads to his downfall (Sturman, 84).

Nora too is not spared the whimsical and heartless conspiracy of fate: she is born into a family to live as a motherless child due to her mother’s demise and later becomes a spouse to a man who lacks moral courage. Her attempt at helping her family leads to its disintegration. Above all and the saddest of all, like her, against her will, her children have to live without a mother’s love and care. Instead, they grow under the care of Anna, Nora’s nanny.  Thus, the author issues warning that there is none totally insulated against fate.

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