Free «Appearances are Misleading: the True Face of Mrs. Linde in A Doll House» Essay
Drama is usually based on the revelation of the true nature of things through a certain conflict. Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll House is no exception: it is based on several conflicts that involve major characters. Although Mrs. Linde seems to be a secondary heroine at first, her role in influencing the events is crucial. The play reveals that she is a double face type of character: soft and kind on the surface but strong and manipulative inside. Presented as passive and victimized at first, she appears to be the main facilitator of action in the play.
When Mrs. Christine Linde first appears on stage at the beginning of the play, she interrupts a steady life of Nora and Torvald. Nora and Christine used to be friends at school but life made them go apart. Years after, Christine looks like an absolute victim, so Nora is compassionate about her. After a forced marriage to a wealthy man in the name of her family, Christine has to deal with another hardship, bankruptcy and death of her husband. So, at first sight she appears to be weak and helpless, with no money and job. She is in a passive position having no other option: "My mother was alive then, and was bedridden and helpless, and I had to provide for my two younger brothers; so I did not think I was justified in refusing his offer." (Ibsen 15). So, at this stage Christine is dependent and vulnerable to social demands to a woman, which were quite severe. She is not able to affect her life and the life of people who surround her. As it is going to be clear later, her character undergoes significant transformation based on her life experiences.
She appeals to her old friend for help, as her husband has good connections, and Nora is too kind-hearted to refuse her. Christine says: “The worst of a position like mine is that it makes one so bitter. No one to work for, and yet obliged to be always on the lookout for chances” (Ibsen 30). However, when she does so, she is already different from the old poor Christine she used to be, which Nora is not aware of. So, in the course of the plot unfolding, the balance between the two women changes, as well as the roles of the strong and the weak one do change. The reader is exposed to the idea that Mrs. Linde in fact has a much tougher nature than it might seem before. She has the past that Nora does not event think of, that is why her life experience makes her flexible and fearless. It appears that she used to be in love with Nils Krodstadt but had to refuse her true love in order to help her family survive, so she seems to have a broken heart but tough character. She is devoid of romanticism that Nora secretly enjoys despite her complaints about her sacrifice.
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Nora, in her turn, looks quite naïve compared to her, as she has lived all her life under protection of her husband. She can hardly imagine what life is outside the doll house that her husband created for her. She is vulnerable without realizing it, and she is happy to be sacrificial and to make her life seem meaningful. For this reason she proudly shares her secret about sacrifice for the sake of her husband with Christine who listens with a hidden smile. Mrs. Linde realizes that Nora lives in the cramped world that has little to do with reality but she does not try to reveal anything to her. She has learned how to be pragmatic and achieve her goals, so this is what she actually does at the sake of Nora.
It is revealed by the author that Christine can hardly be thought of as a negative character but life has taught her to use her chances and to survive at all costs. She says"I have learned to act prudently. Life, and hard, bitter necessity have taught me that" (Ibsen 68). Besides, appearance of Krogstadt, whom she still loves, results in her making choice not in favor of Nora. At the same time, it looks like Christine wants Nora to experience life as it is and free from her illusion about her husband. So, on the one hand, she looks quite manipulative when refusing to recall Krogstadt’s blackmail letter, but on the other hand, the motives for her behavior are quite clear- she wants to open Nora’s eyes to the truth, which she believes is going to be the right option for her.
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All in all, the play demonstrates the revelation of Christine’s true nature, which is more complex than it seem to be at the beginning of the play. At first, Mrs. Linde is victimized because of her suffering and her losses. She is presented as lonely and hopeless, so Nora attempts to support her. However, in the course of events it is revealed that in fact bad fortune has not broken Christine. Instead, life hardships have made her stronger, more pragmatic and goal oriented. She plays a crucial role in the relationship of Nora and Torvald by contributing to Nora’s disillusionment. She takes courage and responsibility to interfere in other people’s lives dramatically, which exposes her true nature. Christine is not a weak victim as she demonstrates to Nora, but she is an independent woman who is able to prove herself to the world.