A Doll House: Final Scene Analysis
There are few moments as moving or as depressing to witness as the conversation that goes on between Torvald and Nora in the final scene of Ibsens A Doll House. The conversation is a brutally honest depiction of the ugliest parts of a relationship, in which both participants are too selfish and self-absorbed to make the concessions necessary in order to maintain the equality needed in a successful marriage. While Torvald apologizes for his rash words, he expects everything to go back to how it was before the argument, when his wife is still obviously unfulfilled. His wife refuses to take her husband and childrens needs into account and makes an unquestionably selfish decision that leaves the entire family shattered.
When the contents of Krogstads letter are exposed, Torvald is understandably very upset. The implications of the damage his wifes actions could cause him are very real and have very far-reaching consequences. As a man who is in charge of handling the finances of a great many people, Torvald is looked upon to be not only virtuous in his acts, but completely honest and law-abiding in all business transactions. For his wife to be accused of fraud would not only deal irreparable damage to his reputation in social circles, it would brand him untrustworthy in business circles and effectively ruin his livelihood. Torvald shows little sympathy to the reasons for Noras crimes and jumps to several unrealistic conclusions during his rant that shows a real lack of understanding or even love to the wife he has pledged himself to for the last eight years. Torvald states Nobody sacrifices his honor for the one he loves. While he apologizes repeatedly for the words said during the beginning of the scene, the damage had already been done and had destroyed his wifes illusion of the man she believed she had married. Nora no longer believed that she was under the protection of an infallible, perfect man. She came to recognize the weakness and insecurity that Torvald had attempted to keep under wraps during their marriage and the effect was so terrifying to her that she felt she could no longer love him.
When Torvald sees that Noras forged note has been sent back, he is overjoyed at the social bullet he has dodged, but attempts to go back to the way things were without addressing the very real issues brought to the surface during their argument. Torvald tells her to collect your thoughts again, my frightened little songbird Ive got wide wings to shelter you with. Not knowing that these words did little to reassure her and more to push her out the door. Nora feels underappreciated and underachieving, and her husbands constant coddling and sheltering of her from the worlds real issues do little to improve these thoughts. Nora soon feels so unfulfilled in her life that she makes the rash decision to pack up and leave a marriage that had been nothing but happy for their eight years, even though money had been tight and they had never sat down seriously together and tried to get to the bottom of anything. The ironic thing is, Torvald does not see this as an issue, believing that a wifes responsibilities lay only in the bedroom and the kitchen, wondering, what good would that [conversation] ever do you? Nora takes this old fashioned view of things as a sign that he never loved her, accuse him and her father of wronging her, and in turn wrongs her family far worse than she had been by the two men who had only shown love to her.
Nora is by far the weakest person in the play, and while she shows no concern for the public view of her actions, she finds no sense of accomplishment in being a loyal wife and homemaker. While in no way should women be disallowed to pursue their true callings in life, the actions taken by Nora were not only rash and not well thought through, they were selfish to the point of complete negligence. Nora abandons her vows, children, and the man who she had loved to this point, despite his willingness to make concessions and work things through. She believes that the duty to make herself competent is more pressing than her duty to her children and husband. The fact that she can make this decision on such short-term basis with no thought to long term well being show how immature and naive to the world workings Nora really is. For Nora to go on and blame her father and husband for her own shortcomings further establishes her selfishness and immaturity, saying that her father and Torvald were to blame that nothings become of me. It is ironic that she should feel so negatively towards her husband after he put himself in a position of authority and power that would not only bring them out of previously harsh financial times, but allow her to so easily attain the lavish Christmas gifts and other material possessions she has shown weakness for earlier in the play. It is as if her husbands new found success made her jealous and begin to question her own self worth, which is an immature way to look at the situation. In the sanctity of marriage, the successes of one should be shared as equally as all failures, and his new financial flexibility should have done nothing but allow her to commit herself to being a good mother, wife, and friend; and if that were so unbearable, she now had the financial ability to go to college and try and find a profession of her own.
While Torvald could have been more understanding with Nora and treated her as an equal, Nora so consistently acted as his moral and intellectual inferior that it would have been difficult for him to have a serious conversation with her. Her obsession over material things and money with no inkling as how to get it further shows she was not ready for the responsibilities of motherhood and adulthood, and though she broke Torvalds heart, he and the children may indeed be better off without such a cancer in their household.