A Doll's House Psychoanalytic Analysis

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A Psychoanalytical Approach to A Doll’s House
Sigmund Freud, a well known psychologist, argues that childhood experience influences adult life in the pursuit of happiness. Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is a prime example of Freud’s theory as the protagonist, Nora, regresses to her past childlike habits of happiness within a voiceless marriage. Nora is limited to mental developmental growth because she is fixated in an adolescent state. In order for Nora to truly find her identity in the end, her illusions of happiness must be shattered. Nora takes pride in thinking of herself as the perfect housewife and mother. She, just as every other wife, plays often with her children and attends formal parties on her husband’s arm. She is told
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She does not begin to fully develop as a grown woman mentally until she believes she can no longer take pride in being a good mother. Nora, only trying to take care of her husband, borrowed money without Torvald’s knowing. This guilt causes Nora to exemplify Freud’s reaction formation. (Myers). This occurs when a person who feels one way towards a person acts the opposite of how they are feeling. In Nora’s case, she subconsciously feels guilt for lying to Torvald so she works hard to be the perfect wife towards him. Her guilt does not affect her conscious until Torvald mentions hypocritical mothers. He states, “Nearly all young criminals have had mothers who lied.” [Ibsen 1136]. This guilt causes doubt in Nora’s mind as she begins to believe that she is no longer a perfect mother. She…show more content…
Her pain stems from her fantasy falling apart. As Maurice Valency writes, “A Doll’s House ...describes in a very convincing manner the process of falling out of love. It's force, however lies not in the superficial action, which in any case lacks suspense, but in the psychological undercurrent which it generates. The man Nora loves is a creature of fantasy…” [Valency 155]. As Valency argues, the life that Nora lives is one of sheltered fiction. Valency continues, describing Nora as a “rebellious daughter” and Torvald as the “archetype father.” [Valency 155]. This is the exact reason that Nora is so happy in her voiceless marriage: she has never been able to experience independence. Sigmund Freud argues that women look to marry a man like their fathers, in his developing theory called the “Electra Complex.” Although the Electra Complex states that young girls feel jealousy for their own mothers, Freud’s theory on this topic shows that one cannot develop if they are fixated at this stage [Myers]. It is this fixation that causes Nora’s contemptment in life. It is the pain of her husband calling her a hypocrite and disowning her that pushes her past this phase, causing final development into an independent woman. Without this pain, Nora would not be pushed past this fixation. Maurice Valency writes, “She throws off her servitude; she is emancipated and
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