KCSE REVISION: ENGLISH PAPER 101/3_ Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House.

Our worst enemies are those close to us.’ Support this statement drawing your illustrations from Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House.


Sometimes the people we love, trust, and believe in end up turning against us either openly or in secrecy. It could be out of greed or jealousy which drives our friends into dark-eyed foes. In Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Nora betrays her husband by borrowing a large sum of money without his knowledge while Doctor Rank suffers because of his father’s reckless drinking habits. Both Rank and Helmer are betrayed by people they trust as discussed below.

Doctor Rank who is Helmer’s best friend turns to be the one who wants to have an affair with Helmer’s wife- Nora. Doctor Rank is the Helmers’s greatest friend who visits the family at least once everyday even-though he doesn’t sojourn professionally. He happens to tolerate Nora’s eating of macaroons although Helmer has forbidden them in his house for he says they are bad for Nora’s teeth. Doctor Rank confesses that he has always loved Nora and that he can gladly give his life for hers. He says he has always been determined to let her know of his feelings for her before he went away. Nora has always had Rank as his best and truest family friend and Rank’s confession bridges the gap between the two. Nora says it is so clumsy, shameful, and horrid of Rank to have said that to her and that there was no need. Rank defends himself saying that Nora has always been a riddle to her and he always thought she would be in her company as in Helmers. Doctor Rank goes against the code of friendship and betrays his best friend for coveting his wife- Nora. We should respect people’s relationships and spouses to avoid being at loggerheads with our friends.

Mrs. Linde, who is so close to Nora and even gets to know her secret the very first turns out to be the one who wants Nora’s secret exposed. When Linde provokes Nora that she knows so little about the burdens and troubles of life, she asks Christine not to reveal her secret to anyone. She tells her it was she who was responsible for saving Tovarld’s life after procuring money for their trip to Italy. Linde wants to know how she managed to get the money for women were not allowed to borrow without their husbands’ consent. Nora defends herself saying it was prudent to save Tovarld’s life and that she wouldn’t have revealed the secret for he is a man who has strong opinions on morality and it would be humiliating with his manly independence. Linde tells Nora on how important and necessary it is for Helmer to find out the truth about the money. She promises Nora she will talk to Krogstad and have the letter withdrawn. Later, she asks Krogstad not to withdraw the letter saying Helmer must know about the unhappy secret for the family to have a complete understanding. The concealment and falsehood of Nora have been the hindrance. Tovarld finally gets to learn of the secret and humiliates Nora for a sacrifice she made out of love. Realizing her worth was taken for granted, she divorces the husband to rediscover herself. For marriages to be strong and successful, couples ought to be trust-worth and open with each other’s struggles.

Mrs. Linde who was Krogstad’s wife-to-be betrays their love when she jilted him to marry a richer man, a man of means. Nora asks Linde if she ever loved her husband but she defends herself saying her mother was bedridden and helpless at that time and she was obliged to taking care of her two younger brothers. Krogstad reminds her that she had acted heartlessly for jilting him for having found a richer man. Linde justifies her actions saying she did it with a heavy heart for she had a helpless mother and two little brothers. They could not wait for Nils because his prospects seemed hopeless then. Krogstad says when he lost her, it was as if all the solid ground had left his feet leaving him a shipwrecked man clinging to a bit of wreckage. Christine comes back into Nils’s life after going through a hard time in her marriage for she lost her husband and inherited nothing after his death. She hopes that two broken people can join forces and stand a better chance together. Krogstad forgives Linde, taking her back to his life. We should not abandon people we love just because of financial incapabilities for poverty is short-lived.

Doctor Rank suffers from tuberculosis of the spine caused by his father’s reckless and uncouth drinking habits. He tells Christine that however wretched he feels, he will prolong the agony as long as possible. He reveals to Nora that there is no use to lie for he is the most wretched of his patients and that since his internal economy is bankrupt, he would soon lie rotting in the churchyard.He further says that the disease is cursedly ugly and that his fear is in facing a lot of pain before he dies and because of Helmer’s morality, he wouldn’t have him near his sickbed. He promises Nora that he would send her a card with a black cross on it, as a sign of his death. Rank projects that death is stalking beside him and that there is no justice in paying the death penalty for another man’s sins. His poor innocent spine now has to suffer because of his father’s youthful amusements. It is said that his father’s liking for truffles, oysters, and heaps of champagne has to take revenge on his unlucky bones, he who has not had the satisfaction of enjoying them. Rank believes his death will not affect the Helmers for they will soon find companionship in Linde. It is indeed sad how his father’s immorality destroys him. Parents therefore should live a straight and moral life to help inspire their children to a better and moral livelihood.

It is indeed true that our enemies are those close to us as shown by Nora’s decision to keep her husband in the dark about her money borrowing secret, Rank’s disrespectful behavior to confess that he is in love with Nora, Mrs. Linde’s decision to expose Nora’s secret and Linde leaving Krogstad for a richer man.




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