Torvald Helmer Character Analysis

1871 words - 7 pages

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen was written in 1879 during the Victorian Era. The story is written as a play to be performed on stage. The two main characters Nora and Torvald Helmer are upper middle class husband and wife, but it boils down to social expectations. Conflicts arise when women are under their husbands rule for everything and society pressure to keep up appearances. Torvald Helmer is the antagonist to Nora, his wife, because he is mostly concerned about his reputation, he is the supreme power of the household, and he is very hypocritical. These character traits make Torvald Helmer out to be a shallow person with no regards for other people’s feelings.
A Doll’s House revolves around the lives of Nora and her husband Torvald and their relationship. The play uses man vs. man conflict to illustrate the expectations of a Victorian society. In Act I, Nora and Torvald’s relationship appears happy, loving, and caring. The reader learns of Nora’s secret of how she borrowed money to save her husband’s life and is now trying to pay it back without Torvald’s knowledge. During this time period, “a woman couldn’t legally borrow money without her father’s or husband’s consent” (Mays and Booth 878). Krogstad, another character who works at the same bank as Torvald, is the one who lent Nora the money and discovered that Nora forged her father’s signature. Krogstad is now blackmailing Nora, threatening to expose her secret if Nora does not save his job at the bank. Nora begs her husband to let Krogstad keep his job, but Torvald fires him anyway. Krogstad leaves a letter detailing Nora’s debt and her forgery in Helmer’s mailbox. Torvald reads the letter and calls his wife all sorts of horrific names. Then Torvald receives another letter with the original bond in it and Krogstad apologizing for everything. At the end of Act III, Nora realizes the truth about her marriage and how her husband never loved her. Then Nora makes a bold decision to leave her husband and children to better educate herself; this was highly frowned upon during the Victorian era.
Torvald Helmer was only concerned with his image and how other people view him. It is seen throughout the story that Torvald is only concerned with protecting his social status. Torvald fires Krogstad, his longtime friend, because he does not want Krogstad’s bad past reputation to smear his own social status. Torvald’s actions prove he is very self-centered. This also tells us about Torvalds ethics and that he would do almost anything to protect his appearance at the expense of others. When Nora tries to persuade Torvald not to fire Krogstad, Torvald replies by saying, “if only this obstinate little person can get her way! Do you suppose I am going to make myself ridiculous before my whole staff, to let people think that I am a man to be swayed by all sorts of outside influence?” (Ibsen 40). This clearly shows that Torvald only cares about himself and what other people will think of him. Again the...

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