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A Doll’s House is play that consists of three acts. It was written by the playwright Henrik Ibsen from Denmark. The first show was conducted at the Royal theatre located in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 1879, but the play was published in November 1879. When published, the play spat a wave of controversies and criticism due to its sharp critical approach to the marriage norms of nineteenth century. However, critics like Michael Meyer disagreed with its theme of fight for human rights and instead, regarded it as a call for individual self realization.
The whole play takes place in one room with the main characters of Nora and Torvald, a wife and a husband respectively. The play has various themes, including gender issues, materialism, children upbringing, culture, fashion, religion, corruption, etc. One of the most vivid themes of the play is the theme of lies, which will be discussed in detail in this essay.
Use of Lies
Lies in A Doll’s House form a substantial portion of the play. The husband is portrayed as the main liar in the play. Torvald uses lie to deceive his wife and deny her so much of essential in life and in marriage. It is through lies that the husband Torvald is able to manipulate his wife Nora in virtually all aspects of life, regardless of Nora’s contribution to the family. Regardless of the intentions of Torvald, it is the fact that he uses lies as a tool of manipulation, which forces his wife to act the way she does throughout the play. In this play, it is evident that the whole process of decision making is clouded by manipulation and lies to suit and make comfortable one side regardless of the situation. In a family set up, every decision to be undertaken should be discussed with all family members to ensure participation of all. However, this is not the case in A Doll’s House, where the husband is the sole decision maker without the input of the wife. Moreover, his decisions are based on untrue statements and assertions that are used to justify his actions throughout the play (Ibsen 34).
Some of the decisions made by Torvald are of great and serious consequences to the family set up. When the wife demands for some money to run errands in the family, Torvald answers by informing the wife that he does not have money. This is a serious lie that greatly impacts on the Doll House and the whole family set up. Development agendas may not be undertaken due to lack of finances, and the wife may not execute any plan. However, in reality, Torvald has plenty of money, but he chooses to deny that fact and opts for a very serious lie in this context. This act of lie and manipulation results into complicated situations for all the characters with little or no gain. Lie and manipulation may be considered as a form of exertion and control over and against another person without his/her knowledge and consent. When lies are used, as it has been demonstrated in A Doll’s House mostly by the husband Torvald, the consequences in virtually all situations are irrational decisions (Ibsen 49).
Krogstand is another character who constantly lies in the play. Although in his case he is not well off economically like Torvald, he uses this trick to try and keep his job in the bank, especially through Torvald’s wife Nora. Eventually, Nora becomes fed up with lies and manipulations of her husband and leaves the house. After some time, Torvald realizes that he cannot stay without her and tries to persuade her to return, but in vain. His even tries to use lies again, but it does not yield much, and he realizes that his manipulations of his wife are over, since Nora no longer loves Torvald (Ibsen 61).
A serious type of lie with serious ramifications is that of Krogstad, who is a bank employee. Initially in the play, it is indicated that he was caught on a very serious lie of forging bank documents. This lie makes his relationship with his employer and also with other people very flaky. This is demonstrated by his reckless economic as well as social life, where he does not have any strong foundation. Krogstad tried to forge a signature of Nora’s father after his death. In this situation, Nora agrees to organize a conspiracy with Krogstad because she does not want to be caught and revealed by her husband, so she decides to go ahead and lie about the documents with a forged signature.
Although Nora may be found to be the victim of circumstances in this play, she is also another deceitful character with regard to lies and manipulation. She realizes that Dr. Rank is in love with her, which she does not reciprocate. However, instead of her openly admitting that she does not love Dr. Rank in return, she lies and uses this fact by flirting with him (Ibsen 77).
From the above mentioned, it is evident that lies form the basis of relations in A Doll’s House, where almost every character perfects the act of lying to achieve his or her secret purposes. Torvald lies in numerous circumstances to achieve his objective of total control and manipulation over his wife Nora. In other acts, Krogstad uses lies in order to keep his job at the bank after initial forgery act was discovered. Finally, Nora is portrayed to continue with lying when she manipulates Dr. Rank and pretends to be in love with him, but in essence, she wants his wealth, resources, and money. Thus, lies have been used throughout the play for individual selfish achievements.