The Tragedy of Inequality: Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll House- as Tragedy.
A critic by the name of Dorothea Krook treats A Doll House as a tragedy because it has what she takes to be the four universal elements of the genre: the act of shame or horror, consequent intense suffering, a consequent increase in knowledge, and, finally, a reaffirmation of the value of life. If these are indeed the universal elements of tragedy, then I must agree with her assessment for I detect the occurrence of each of these four elements in the play. .
The act of shame or horror in the play is Nora's "shameful- act of forgery and chronic deceit and her consequent horror when Helmer explains to her the degenerate nature of the chronic liar. Ironically, Helmer lectures her on the evil and degenerate nature of a man like Krogstad, who, like Nora, has committed forgery: "I literally feel physically revolted when I'm anywhere near such a person,"" says Helmer, and tells her how "that kind of atmosphere infects the whole life of a home,"" especially the children (DiYanni 1072). Nora's reaction is overt, contributing to the irony of the scene; elements of dialogue and character business reveal her horror and shame: When the children ask to come in and play with her, Nora exclaims, "No, no, no, don't let them come in to me!- indicating that she does not wish to "pollute- them with her shameful presence. Note that she is "pale with terror- when she states, "Hurt my children "! Poison my home?- indicating that the thought of her actions polluting her family and home horrifies her (1072).
As we have seen above, the shame and horror of Nora's actions cause her to experience intense suffering; indeed, it even leads her to contemplate suicide. Helmer, too, suffers as a consequence of this "shameful- act; for it is because of this act and its repercussions that Nora becomes aware of the true nature of her relationship with Helmer and, consequently, leaves him.