A Doll's House By Henrik Ibsen Character Analysis Nora Helmer

Nora is by far the most interesting character in the play. Many critics have pointed out that such an immature, ignorant creature could never have attained the understanding and revolutionary qualities that Nora has at the time she leaves her home. Ibsen, however, has carefully constructed Nora so that her independence and farsightedness have always shown through her adolescent capriciousness. Although her father and husband have seriously injured her practical education, Nora has retained enough native wisdom to confront an emergency. That she bungles the situation by a careless forgery provides further credence to her independence of thought as well as to her lack of sophistication. This mixture of wisdom and childishness is Nora's strongest quality. It enables her to oppose the knowledge of books and the doctrines of her worldly husband and to test by experience the social hypothesis which declares that duties to the family are the most sacred. Only an innocent creature can brave the perils of the outside world to find her identity.

Shocked audiences who objected to Nora's solution of her marital impasse and critics who considered her character unable to withstand the severe trial neglected to take account of the artistic truthfulness of the slammed door and its aftermath. One of the most common themes enduring in folklore and in less spontaneous works of art is this notion of the innocent journeying through the world to discover basic human values. The significance of these mythic themes is that only an innocent, fearless creature has the power of vision to see through the false values of sophisticated society. In Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, the story of Siegfried, Fielding's Tom Jones, and even in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, we find the recurrent idea of youthful inquiry prevailing over worldly experience. Ibsen's Nora, though deriving from a much closer and realistic setting, is raised to a mythic level as she too accepts her inevitable quest, the sacred pursuit of her identity.

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