A Doll's house, written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879 was one of the most controversial plays of its time as it was sharply critical of marriage norms and the social passivity assigned to women in a male-oriented society. The plot revolves around a woman, Nora Helmer. This was quite atypical in the late 1800's, a time when males dominated society therefore labeling it one of the first true feminist plays. The play moves along in a chain of events starting from the meeting between Krogstad and Torvald until the point where Nora leaves her husband for good.
The plot traces the awakening of Nora Helmer from her previously unexamined life of domestic, wifely comfort. Having been ruled her whole life by either her father or her husband Torvald, she finally comes to question the foundation of everything she has believed in. Having borrowed money from a man of ill-repute named Krogstad by forging her father's signature, she was able to pay for a trip to Italy to save her sick husband's life (he was unaware of the loan, believing that the money came from Nora's father). Since then, she has had to contrive ways to pay back her loan, growing particularly concerned with money and the ways of a complex world. The play portrays the growth of Nora's character from an immature, ignorant creature to the understanding and revolutionary woman she becomes by the time she leaves her home. Act three opens up with Mrs. Linde awaiting Krogstad. The viewers/readers already know that Christine and Krogstad used to have a relationship together and this leaves room for foreshadowing. Nora appears during every point of the play except during this conversation. She was at the ball with her husband. The probable reason why Ibsen does this is to allow foreshadowing or to emphasize an important scene. Ibsen writes to lead the reader off and enjoys using anti-climaxes. A perfect example of such is from the scene above where the readers expect Kristina to convince Krogstad to take his letter back but instead urges him to leave the letter in the mailbox allowing Nora to learn the 'truth' about her husband. Ibsen employs many climaxes into his plays which serve primarily to enthrall the reader.
Notable for their lack of action, Ibsen's dramas are classical in their astaticism. Before the curtain rises, all the significant events have already occurred in the lives of Ibsen's characters, and it is the business of the play to reap the consequences of these past circumstances. The tight logical construction of each drama is the most important factor for the play's plausibility. With this in mind, Ibsen shows how every action of each character is the result of carefully detailed experiences in the earlier life of the person, whether in childhood, education, or genetic environment. The author shows, for instance, that Nora's impetuosity and carelessness with money are qualities inherited from her father. Krogstad suddenly turns respectable because he needs to pass on a good name for the sake of his maturing sons. And the readers also the readers learn from the beginning of act three that Christine returns to town in order to renew her relationship with Krogstad. Finally, to account for Nora's secrecy with regard to the borrowed money, Ibsen shows how Torvald's way of life is devoted to maintaining appearances at the expense of inner truth.
Christine is a somewhat stronger character and serves as a comparison to Ibsen's heroine. By recounting how she denied her rights to love and self-determination by marrying for financial security, Christine foreshadows how Nora will confront a bitter future after learning that her marriage is based on deception. Nora, according to Christine's example, must eventually conclude, through her own sufferings, that the only way of life which can survive crises is one based on truthful relationships. The ability for Christine to rebuild her life with Krogstad can be accepted as a note of hope in Nora's case. Perhaps in the years to come, Nora and Torvald will also be able to restore their marriage. There are also many underlying themes present throughout the play such as, Appearance vs. Reality where, for instance, in the beginning of scene 3 Krogstad is shown to be more merciful and sympathetic when he is reunited with his true love, Christine, whilst from the start of the play, readers view Krogstad as a bitter, vengeful extortionist. Other examples are found throughout the play for instance, Mrs Linde first strikes us as self-sufficient, but we learn that she feels "empty" now that she has no one to look after and Dr Rank acts the role of friend to Torvald and Nora, but we later discover the true motive for his daily visits: he is in love with Nora. Also, in a society in which difficult or 'taboo' topics were not discussed openly, much of the truth in A Doll's House is conveyed via letters and cards. Examples are Krogstad's letter to Torvald revealing the facts of Nora's loan; his subsequent letter retracting his threats and enclosing her bond; and Dr Rank's discreet visiting cards, marked only with a black cross, announcing his death. Also, during the course of the play, I believe that the letterbox was on stage whilst the events were taking place, giving the viewer a sense of dreariness as even thought the truth (locked up in the letterbox) was so close, it was yet so far.
The entire play is set in Nora's house and this also symbolizes that Nora is trapped in it and this in turn gives the viewer an idea that Nora is trapped in her own marriage. Overall, the conversation between Christine and Krogstad was essential to play for many reasons including the use of a foreshadowing device, a break from Nora's viewpoint, we learn more about Krogstad now than we do during the entire play as the conversation reveals his gentle, sympathetic side and how it serves to be an anti-climax as we expect Christine to retrieve the sent letter whilst she encourages him to leave it be. The theme appearance vs reality is best brought out through this scene. Until the latter part of the nineteenth century, theater remained a vehicle of entertainment. Insights into the human condition were merely incidental factors in the dramatist's art. Ibsen, however, contributed a new significance to drama which changed the development of modern theater. The emergence of confronting social norms and traditions through plays makes modern drama what it is and "A Doll's House" was the spark that lit the fire.