Language

The individual language

The language of the play A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen is kept simple. In the dialogues, the characters use informal expressions showing their relationship with each other. 

The level of language corresponds to the manners of the time and shows that all the main characters belong to the educated middle class. The characters use individual linguistic patterns. 

Torvald, Krogstad, and Dr. Rank are college-educated and have an extensive and stylish vocabulary, as they are used to communicating a lot with people who also had a higher education. Both Christine and Nora have received a school education and can perform office work. Their education is also reflected in their language.

The lawyer Krogstad uses a very formal, almost literary type of language. In his conversations with Nora, he always tries to argue matter-of-factly and coolly in order to express his superiority over her linguistically as well: 

The matter never came into court; but every way seemed to be closed to me after that. So I took to the business that you know of. I had to do something; and, honestly, I don’t think I’ve been one of the worst. (Act 1, 37%).

It is only in conversation with Christine, who explains to him the true circumstances of her separation from him , that the normally self-assured Krogstad falters: "So that was it. And all this—only for the sake of money!" Act 3, 3%). Here he reveals that he is not the hard-hearted man he has presented himself as up to now. 

When Christine opens up to Krogstad that she wants to live with him and take care of his children, he becomes almost euphoric: "Christine, are you saying this deliberately? Yes, I am sure you are. I see it in your face. Have you really the courage, then—?" (Act 3, 14%).

Nora is generally treated like a child by those around her. Torvald, for example, talks to his wife as if she were a small, playful child and uses metaphors from the animal world: "Is that my little lark twittering out there? [...] Is it my little squirrel bustling about?" (Act 1, 4%). This interaction takes on almost grotesque features in some situations.

 When Nora lies to him about Krogstad's visit, his whole behavior (in the form of the stage directions) and his language show that he does not take her seriously at all and believes he has to educate her:

Didn’t you tell me no one had been here? [Shakes his finger at her.] My little songbird must never do that again. A songbird must have a clean beak to chirp with—no false notes! [Puts his arm round her waist.] That is so, isn’t it? Yes, I am sure it is. [Lets her go.] We will say no more about it. [Sits down by the stove.] How warm and snug it is here! (Act 1, 91%).

When Christine expresses herself, she does so with concise and simple words. In this way, she shows that she can express what she thinks in a very clear way: "I have learned to act prudently. Life, and hard, bitter necessity have taught me that." (Act 3, 8%). 

A large part of Christine’s dialogue takes place when she meets her friend Nora for the first time in years. She shows restlessness and ...

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