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Nora’s Neurosis: A Doll’s House Essay, Research Paper

Nora?s Neurosis

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.

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