Set in Norway in the nineteenth century, the play revolves around a middle class woman, Nora, and her struggle with identity and independence. Besides Nora, two other characters exemplify the theme of appearance versus reality in A Doll’s House. Nora’s husband, Torvald, and their family friend, Dr.Rank, both are not all that meets the eye. Chief among these characters, however, is Nora. The wife of Torvald Helmer, Nora has her life made for her. She has more than enough money due to her husband’s appointment to a high level banking position.
She has three lovely children that, in the Victorian spirit, she rarely sees. She has a beautiful house, complete with maid and nanny, and she has a secret. Though Nora seems to be the perfect Victorian wife- dependant upon Torvald for everything to the point that her definition of freedom becomes “To be free, absolutely free.
To spend time playing with the children. To have a clean, beautiful house, the way Torvald likes it. ” (Ibsen 977) Nora goes as far as to include Torvald’s will into her definition of freedom. The reality of the situation, as it unfolds with the play, is quite contrary. In the moments before Nora walks out on Torvald, it is revealed that she has become an independent woman, able to think and act for herself. Torvald tries to reason with her, telling her that she is a wife and a mother, but she responds, saying that “ believe in that anymore.