Free Essay: Research-Based Character Analysis

Published: 2023-10-04
Free Essay: Research-Based Character Analysis
Essay type:  Book review
Categories:  Research Character analysis Dramatic literature
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1345 words
12 min read

Literary characters are one of the most critical aspects of the stories. Writers use characters to communicate a specific message, portray a particular theme, or create various emotions. That is why some people have posited that no story element ranks above character (NYBE, par.1). That is why the research-based essay is going to do a character analysis on A Doll’s House by Norwegian playwriter Henrik Ibsen. The play has a good selection of characters to choose from, starting from Torvald Helmer, and Krogstad to Mrs. Linde. However, for this analysis, the focus will be on Nora, the protagonist, and Torvald’s wife. Nora, 's presence in the story is significant as it helps portray messages such as filial obligations, the role of women in the family, and society at large. Therefore, the play’s overall message is female oppression, and the character of Nora is central in communicating this message in the following ways: her changing role, her sacrifices, and her wisdom.

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Nora’s character changes from an immature, ignorant character at the start of the play to one that is knowledgeable and independent-minded. The play’s title itself carries a simple connotation with the name Doll House. Dolls are entertainment instruments for children. However, a significant portion of the image of a little girl is communicated through Helmer’s conversations with her. For example, when Hermes finds out about Nora’s latest purchases, he says, “Has

my little spendthrift been making the money fly again?” (2) He uses words such a “little” paint the picture of a small naïve person, with little knowledge of what she is doing. Before saying those words, Helmer had commanded Nora not to interrupt him while he was working in his room. The excerpt is a small portion of how Ibsen uses the interactions between Nora and her husband to display sexism against women in society. While Nora seems to accept Helmer’s prejudices lying down in the early sections of the paper, that is not always the case as her character continues to evolve.

The transformation of Nora’s character is an ongoing process that reaches the climax when she slams the door against her husband. After finding out about Nora’s loan, Helmer utters some insulting words that are both insulting and discriminatory to Nora as a woman. Although Helmer later realizes his mistake and tries to make amends, Nora takes none of it storms out of the room (39-45). This part of the play was a defining moment because it marked the complete transformation of Nora. It is also the point that confirms the author’s message of showing the objectification of women in society. That is something that is partly acknowledged by Ahmad and Gawel in their review of the play. According to Ahmad and Gawel, “Clearly, by the time she slams the door of the doll’s house, both her personality and the concept of the family have been transformed,” (171). It is a depiction of Nora that shows a naïve woman whose presence can be compared to a trophy, to an enlightened individual that seeks to be more than a “doll.”


Nora’s sacrifices depict a society that is always demanding something from women but rarely wants to give back. When Nora wanted to leave Helmer, one of the lines he used on her was, “This is monstrous! Can you forsake your holiest duties in this way?”(43). Helmer’s words go to show that women are always expected to give up their own pursuits for the sake of the wife or daughter’s duties. However, the fact that these words are directed at Nora happens to be the thing that stands out because Nora had already made enough sacrifices. She had sacrificed for her father, her husband, and her children. More so, she was heartbroken to learn that her husband was not prepared to make similar sacrifices for her (44). That is something that the author uses to build his message of subjugation of women and their eventual liberation.

Nora’s sacrifices were an exemplification of how the Victorian society viewed a mother. Ahmad and Gawel also noted the connection between Nora’s sacrifices and Victorian mothers (173). The Victorian view of a mother was one that is devoted to her family, educating her children and discipline (174). It is one of the main views that Nora’s sacrifices wanted to depict. The author wanted her struggles to be a representation of the struggles of millions of other women and ultimately work towards showing the kind of oppression and discrimination that women experience in society.


Her father and husband had negatively influenced Nora’s practical education and knowledge, but she still manages to retain enough native wisdom to make informed decisions. According to Hossain, “the mixture of wisdom and childishness is Nora’s strongest quality” (12). The author’s depiction of Nora as an inexperienced woman with little knowledge about the fundamentals of life works towards the author’s intention to depict a society that has denied women the basic needs, including knowledge. After Nora realized her situation, she says,” I have had great injustice done me, Torvald; first by father, and then by you”(42). Nora was referring to the fact that she was never allowed to gain any practical experience because both her father and her husband would not let have her own opinions leave alone to implement them. She realized that she lacks sufficient knowledge to take part in any meaningful activities, such as making monetary decisions.

Nora still retains enough native wisdom to make informed decisions despite being denied an opportunity to learn by her father and husband. Nora’s decision to leave the comfort of her home and marriage is an informed decision, albeit a sacrificial one at that, but one that must be made if she intends to achieve her freedom and power. According to Hossain, Ibsen created Nora as a manifesto of post-modernist feminism and the advent of self-sacrificing soul (12). Nora has been making sacrifices all her life, but all those sacrifices were for other people’s sake, such as her father, her husband, and children. However, this last sacrifice is for her own sake, and as it turns out, it is the greatest of all. She is going to become homeless, and lack the physical and financial safety that her husband provided. That move plays into the author’s message in that, regardless of the danger she might face, her action is a form of protests against male domination, and it one that women should seek to have at all costs.


The portrayal of Nora’s character is vital in depicting female oppression and their fight for freedom and equality. Despite being portrayed as a naïve girl with little knowledge of the world, she manages to transform into an informed person that is capable of making independent decisions. The sacrifices she has made throughout her life are an exemplification of women’s situation in the Scandinavian society, which the author hails from, at the time. However, she makes one last sacrifice that happens to be the biggest and riskiest. As it happens, her last sacrifice is a unique one because she is making it for the sake of her freedom and success. The author has managed to use Nora as an embodiment of freedom, power, and a symbol of 19th and 20th-century feminism.

Works Cited

Ahmad, Shafiuddin, and Angela Gawel. “The politics of money: Incomplete feminism in A Doll’s House.” The Dalhousie Review (1990).

Hossain, Amir. “Re-interpreting A Doll’s House through Post-modernist Feminist Projections.” IRWLE 11.1 (2015): 1-14.

NYBE. “5 Important Characters to Have in Every Story.” NY Book Editors, New York Book Editors, 2020,

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