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Conner Beihl

Mrs. Balka

IB HL English 11

20 September, 2018

“A Doll’s House” Supervised Essay

Prompt #4

“They were using dolls to project their dreams of their own futures as adult women” (by

Ruth Handler) and were creating their perfect lives and what it could be. In the playwright “A

Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen there were very prominent themes and representations of life

back in the late 1800’s. More specifically the women’s and men’s roles in the household and

daily life, the main characters Nora and Torvald had represented these roles of that time period

and portrayed what a perfect marriage would be in the time period. But throughout the story the

main character, Nora, began to slowly realize what she was in her marriage, she saw herself and

her life as dolls. So Henrik Ibsen creates motifs all around the story about Dolls to represent how

life was to women in the Victorian period was just being controlled and looking pretty in their

lives, and that it wasn’t right that women were underscored and seen as just dolls.

In the beginning, Ibsen creates the character, Nora, as dumbfounded and not knowing of

how she was being controlled and not being seen as an equal. However in the later part of the

playwright Nora finally sees what she is to Torvald and what she was to her father, in which was

a similar position to that of her and Torvald. She sees that her father called her as “his doll-child,

and he played with [her] just as [she] used to play with”(Ibsen 110) her dolls, and that to him and

Torvald, she was just an inanimate object to control and make look perfect. Ibsen used this to
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show the audience that there was a problem in society and that this control of women was


As the story progresses Nora gets more and more irritated by being a doll, slowly she

sees how Torvald, her husband, always was just using her as a prop and a trophy and never saw

her as equal. When she finally decides to confront Torvald about the unjust treating when she

proclaims to him that “[She] was [his] little lark. [She] was [his] doll”(Ibsen 116) and nothing

more, a doll he uses to create a picture perfect marriage, that never once did she mean anything

more to him than just some pretty toy. This creates a blatant accusation to the public and those

who witnessed the play, that men were treating their wives as dolls and this was something

wrong in society and it needed to change. Ibsen’s purpose from creating this play was to question

and change society, that something so many believed for so long had to be put to an end because

women are just as much humans as are men.

After Nora’s proclamation to Torvald, Nora begins to act upon it. After all that time

trapped in her doll house she begins to leave her husband and set herself free from her bonds.

That when Torvald’s “doll is taken away from [him],”(Ibsen 117) he can no longer control her

as his doll and no longer look down upon her. However now Nora was changed and only wanted

to be seen as an equal, this was her liberation, that being herself was that of just being a doll to

Torvald. This motif of dolls provokes the idea that it was so common for men to treat women as

toys and Ibsen’s purpose of this was to create a rendition for all women to break their bonds at

the time and change society.

In conclusion, “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen was created to make the unjust

representation of women in the late 1800’s apparent to the public and it wasn’t right. He does
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this most effectively with a motif of dolls, that to men, women were just play toys and trophies

that had no real purpose. So in Ibsen’s story he creates the characters Nora and Torvald to

represent what a marriage was in that time, but how truly wrong it was.