The decline and fall of the Helmers' marriage

A Doll's House Act Three - notes for Edexcel A2 English Language and Literature exam.

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The decline and fall of the Helmer's marriage
Pages 67-68 ­ By making Helmer somewhat inebriated, Ibsen is able to exemplify and amplify
Helmer's attitude towards his wife more clearly than ever.
1. Stage directions revealing his sense of entitlement and ownership:
"[He leads her, in spite of her resistance, gently but firmly into the room]."
2. Language which objectifies and infantilises Nora:
"The sweet little thing"
3. Subtext suggesting Helmer's main concern is his reputation (what others think of him):
"That's what everybody at the party thought too."
Page 69 ­ Helmer feigns chivalry but shoos Mrs Linde out of the door ­ it's a tiny detail but reinforces
that Helmer needs to appear to do the right thing whether there is substance behind this image or
not ­ juxtaposed with the embroidery section ­ decoration not substance rules Helmer's decisions.
1. Phatic language with Mrs Linde ­ disingenuous offers of chivalry ­ use of ellipsis and
repetition of "Good night" to advance Mrs Linde's departure:
"Good night! Good night! You'll get home all right, I hope? I'd be only too pleased to... But
you haven't far to walk. Good night, good night!"
2. Possessive pronouns repeated (for sake of listening audience):
"My little skylark", "Mine and mine alone, completely and utterly mine."
3. Return of third person references:
"Treasured possession", "This loveliness"
4. Return of skylark imagery:
My little skylark"
5. Nora echoes Torvald's sentiments (she must see the world his way):
"Everything you do is right."
6. Torvald is ignorant of all truths and has not yet picked up on Rank's circumstance ­ he is
immune to the pain of others:
"Did you notice how gay Rank was this evening?"
7. Repetition of adjective "lovely" for Nora ­ soft consonant:
"How irresistibly lovely you are," "Loveliness"


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