Play Review on ‘A Doll’s House’ Theme of Lies and Deception

‘A​ ​Doll’s​ ​House’ Theme of Lies and Deception

In the play ‘A Doll’s House,’ the author highlights acts of lies and deception through the deeds and conduct of the characters. Lying entails making a false statement with the purpose of deluding. Deception, on the other hand, is an act of misleading, which results into feelings of duplicity and cynicism among individuals, because it contravenes what is considered ethically right. Many people in the society expect others to be honest and truthful, which is not always the case. People tend to lie and deceive either to validate a given idea, interpretation or to defend someone else.

Occasionally, deception can be unintentional when a person does not mean to lie. In ‘A Doll’s House,’ most of the characters’ acts of deception are deliberate. The play is centered on lies and deception with each devious character inspiring the conduct of every other character. The initial act of cheating in the play is manifested when Nora lies to Torvald and obtains cash from Krogstad for her husband’s treatment. Nora continues lying to him expecting to settle the loan. Nora believes that it is her responsibility to lie in order to protect her husband. “I must try and appease [Krogstad] some way or another. The matter must be hushed up at any cost.”(Ibsen 46).  Nonetheless, this makes her susceptible because Krogstad keeps threatening her.

Nora considers that her act of deception was for the greater good since she was enthused by her husband’s ailment. She believes that she had to do everything she could to save him, and so she carries on with more lies and fabrications. Nora continues to lie to her husband even on trivial issues. For instance, taking macaroons and tiptoeing to eavesdrop at his door with an intention of keeping everything from her husband, which she hopes will protect the marriage. “Hasn’t Miss Sweet Tooth been breaking rules in town today? […] taken a bite at a macaroon or two?” (Ibsen 62).

In response, Torvald deceives Nora by making her believe he loves her. In fact, Torvald has so many other priorities and only considers Nora as his property (Siddal 15). He simply pretends that their life is faultless, and this is another illustration of self-deception. According to the scenes in the play, the entire marriage between Nora and Torvald is centered on lies and deception. “What a horrible awakening! All these eight years—she who was my joy and pride—a hypocrite, a liar—worse, worse—a criminal!” (Ibsen). This is also evident when Nora encourages her children to lie about Torvald when she tells them not to talk to anyone about him, not even to the strange man, which is an action at the expense of her children’s virtuousness.

In ‘A Doll’s House,’ the perception of liberty and independence encourages Nora to persist in lying and deceiving because individuals have a habit of longing for whatever they cannot get. However, she is not the only character in the play who lies at the cost of her loved ones. Dr. Rank, Nora and Torvald’s family friend, also displays a deceptive nature when he fails to reveal his actual feelings for Nora. However, Nora ultimately finds out about Dr. Rank’s true feelings when she attempts to seek his assistance and succeeds to see what is beneath his heart. Conversely, Dr. Rank appears to be very understanding. The only reason he deceives his friends is that he tries to be a truthful, loyal friend to Torvald. Dr. Rank is working hard to be trustworthy, but, at the same time, he cannot stay away from Nora. Besides, he succeeds in uncovering Nora’s emotive naivety and disinclination to violate societal requirements. Therefore, it is not clear if Dr. Rank’s act of deception is deliberate or not (Siddal 15).The doctor also deceives Torvald by not openly disclosing the condition of his health since he knows that his friend cannot take the news about his poor condition positively. “It was necessary he should have no idea what a dangerous condition he was in. It was to me that the doctors came and said that his life was in danger.” (Ibsen 193). Nonetheless, this form of deception is not deliberate.

Despite the fact that Torvald seems to be the most affected victim of deception in the play both from Nora and his close friend, he is also considered the guiltiest character of the ‘crime.’ Throughout the play, it becomes evident how Torvald deceived Nora into trusting that their marriage was happy, although in reality it was just another deceit. According to Torvald, the most significant element is to maintain an appropriate appearance of restraint and aptness since the culture he was raised in was very disparaging and hurtful. “A guilty man like that has to lie and […] has to wear a mask in the presence of those near and dear to him, even before his own wife and children. […] the children—that is the most terrible part of it all, Nora.” (67). The play, therefore, presents scenes of lies and deception which form a significant theme that characters seem to have lost a sense of reality. Towards the end of the play, Nora becomes more cognizant of how visionless she was and walks out on her family to search for freedom and liberation.

In conclusion, it is evident that the main reason why there is a difference between appearance and reality is that the characters are involved in several kinds of deception. Often, this is to allow them to be approved by others and the society. From the play’s acts of lies and deceit, it is apparent that the vices are prompted by the acceptance or disapproval of other people in the society. This is because many people tend to be overly concerned about what other people think hence try to fit in.



Work Cited

Ibsen, H., & Stephens, S. (2014). A doll’s house. A&C Black.