Doll`s House Act I

     A Doll House sets the scene for a disturbing commentary on the woman’s place
in society at the time. Nora’s 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. Can’t 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

Nora’s 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 Torvald’s 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 doesn’t
seem to be aware that the forgery of her father’s 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 else’s
signature. This again is a reflection of her difficulty realizing what is right
and wrong ans the difference between the two. Nora’s 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.


Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House. The Bedford Introduction to Drama, 3rd ed. Ed.

Lee A. Jacobus, University of Conneticut. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997.