Doll`s House Act I A Doll House sets the scene for a disturbing commentary on the womans place in society at the time. Noras psychological makeup is one of an oppressive, emotionally depriving and possibly abusive father and an absent, neglectful mother. Her flighty actions are the ones of a child because as a child, that is probably the only way she got attention, and she was never taught any other way. Nora is suffering from a neurotic personality disorder. The Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, (1996), defines neurosis as “a slightly less impaired state than that of the psychotic, wherein the individual has lost touch with reality.” Because of her being mistreated by men for so many years, by her father and in turn her husband, Nora has developed a strange sense of right and wrong, and which is which.
The first scene in which Nora brings in the presents already exemplifies her strange reasoning. Although we know that she should be saving every penny, and she even says later on to Mrs Linde that she tries to make some money of her own by copying, and attempts to save by wearing “the simplest, cheapest outfits,” (p 643), here she contradicts herself by insisting to Torvald that “..we can squander a little now. Cant we?” (p 638) This strange, often moody temperament is a well known characteristic of a neurotic. The way Torvald treats Nora in the very first scene also is tell-tale of Noras mental problems. She lies to her husband about eating macaroons.
Although wives were perhaps more submissive to their husbands desires 120 years ago, I certainly doubt that most of them would have accepted being treated like a child with rules regarding whether they could snakc on a macaroon or not. Her desire to please is also characteristic of a neurotic, as they cannot often handle rejection. As one might suspect and as we learn throughout and at at the end of the play, Nora and Torvalds relationship really never went beyond simple flirting, and they never really talked about anything. One who would continue in a relationship in this manner obviously has a disconnection with reality. During her conversation with Mrs.
Linde, (pgs 640-644), Nora doesnt seem to be aware that the forgery of her fathers signature was illegal. Although she has been sheltered her whole life, I find it nearly impossible to accept that she has never heard that it is wrong to fake someone elses signature. This again is a reflection of her difficulty realizing what is right and wrong ans the difference between the two. Noras mental state affects every character in the play, as she interacts with everyone. There is more to her than just her neurosis, but that is a pivotal part of her character.
Were she not to be portrayed as neurotic, this would be a very different, and potentially more boring play. Bibliography Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House. The Bedford Introduction to Drama, 3rd ed. Ed.
Lee A. Jacobus, University of Conneticut. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997.