Characterisation in Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”

Nora is the play’s protagonist and the wife of Torvald Helmer. She is also a mother of three children.

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The characters in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House are Nora, Torvald, Dr. Rank, Mrs Linde, Krogstad, Ivar, Bob, Emmy, Anne, Helen, and Porter.

Now let’s look into each one of them.

Nora

Nora is the play’s protagonist and the wife of Torvald Helmer. She is also a mother of three children.

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Nora has never quite lived the way she wanted. She is inexperienced in the ways of the world. She transitioned immediately from being her father’s daughter to being her husband’s wife. In between, she had no time to learn a thing or two about the mechanics of the world. Nora is materialistic and acts on impulse.

Though we later learn that she is independent enough to negotiate the loan that made Torvald’s holiday possible and over the course of the play, she emerges as a fully independent woman who can take total control of her actions, seeing the truth and thus leaving the shackles of her marriage.

Torvald

Torvald is Nora’s husband. Torvald Helmer at the beginning of the play, has been promoted to the position of the manager of a bank.

He is focused on business and he is meticulous on spending of money. He is always in his study and hardly spends time with his children and wife.

He makes a mockery of his wife’s childishness, relating it to such words as “Sky Lark and Squirrel” and wants his wife to follow instructions as he believes she doesn’t know enough to make right decisions.

Torvald Helmer comes across as a man with a high sense of the protection of ego. Still, the last Act of the play makes it clear he dearly loves his wife.

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Dr. Rank

He is a friend of the family and Torvald’s physician. As an elderly man, rather than providing moral guidance and example for the rest of the characters, Dr. Rank is the very definition of corruption in human form.

Professing love for his friend’s wife, he is also sick from the tuberculosis of the spine, a venereal disease, contracted from his father, due to his father’s sexual exploits. He goes off to die, leaving a visiting card with a black cross to signify that for him, the end has come.

Mrs. Linde

Mrs. Linde is an old school mate of Nora. She comes back to Nora after the death of her husband and mother. She has worked hard to take care of her mother and two brothers.

Now with her mother dead, and her brothers, adults, she is now free.

Financially down and jobless, she asks Nora to help her secure a job at Torvald’s bank which she is granted. She reconciles with Krogstad, her old lover and influences him to drop the threat against Nora and her family.

Krogstad

Krogstad is the man from whom Nora borrows money to pay for a trip to Italy. He is an employee at the bank that Torvald has just taken over.

Krogstad was involved in a work scandal that makes Torvald sack him. Then Krogstad blackmails Nora to ensure that he does not lose his job.

Ivar, Bob and Emmy

Ivar, Bob and Emmy are Nora’s three young children. Raised by Anne the Nurse, the children spend little time with their mother or father.

The time they do spend with Nora consist of Nora playing with them as if she were her playmates. She sees them as dolls.

They are “three children” and they are often entirely out in performance.

Anne

Anne is the family’s nurse. Anne raised Nora who lost her mother and stayed on to raise Nora’s children. Nora entrusts Anne with her children’s care when she leaves.

Helen

Helen is a housemaid employed by the Helmers.

Porter

Porter brings in the Christmas tree at the very beginning of the play.

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