’s Neurosis: A Doll’s House Essay, Research Paper
Act I of Ibsen?s 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
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
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
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.