Throughout the play Ibsen takes pains to enforce and reinforce Nora’s identity. Right at the beginning of the play we witness the following exchange between Helmer, Nora’s husband and Nora herself
Helmer. Is it my little squirrel bustling about?
Helmer. When did my squirrel come home?
Nora. Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket
and wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I
Helmer. Don’t disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door
and looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say?
All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money
Immediately even with this brief introduction several ...view middle of the document...
They try to leave the house (Mahendranath, Binni and Savitri all try) but return eventually. In the words of critic N.S. Dharan:
“Each individual in the family feels lonely but none dares to leave the coop. And if at all anyone leaves, it is only to come back. The play, in effect, portrays loneliness in the midst of relationships, and also the impossibility of escaping into the world outside. One goes out only to come back and live as one used to in the past. The wheel goes round and round, but the spokes are precariously hinged, likely to fall off any moment. But nothing happens, the stasis is frightening.”
In fact the depiction of the trapped and isolated individual was one of Mohan Rakesh’s foremost concerns while writing this play. He says
“Most of my stories are about people living through the torture of relationships and loneliness, where I have tried to depict through the individual his environment. The loneliness is not the loneliness of the socially isolated individual but the loneliness that comes from living within society and it leads not to any kind of cynicism but the need to live through it.”
Thus living such a life of isolation only frays and weakens bonds. It is the spring of disharmony and dissatisfaction in A Doll’s House and the spring of uneasy incompleteness in Halfway House.
For any marriage to be successful, it is a given that both the husband and the wife must know and understand each other – feelings, motives, ideas and emotions thoroughly. It also goes without saying that a stable marriage is the foundation stone of a happy family.
But neither Nora and Helmer nor Mahendranath and Savitri understand each other and hence do not empathise with each other. They are unable to take that next crucial step to cement their marriage: reconciling their differences so that love can grow between them.
Nora. We have been married now eight years. Does it not
occur to you that this is the first time we two, you and I,
husband and wife, have had a serious conversation?
Helmer. What do you mean by serious?
Nora. In all these eight years—longer than that—from the
very beginning of our acquaintance, we have never exchanged
a word on any serious subject.
Helmer. Was it likely that I would be continually and forever
telling you about worries that you could not help me to bear?
Nora. I am not speaking about business matters. I say that
we have never sat down in earnest together to try and get at
the bottom of anything.
Helmer. But, dearest Nora, would it have been any good to
Nora. That is just it; you have never understood me.
Similarly Savitri has never understood Mahendranath. Again I would like to quote critic N.S. Dharan :
“ Mohan Rakesh’s insistence that the same actor should play all the five roles, namely the Man in the Black Suit, Mahendranath, Singhania , Jagmohan and Juneja shows his meticulous care for dramatic techniques. The same man playing five roles is a unique dramatic...