Essay on Portrayal Of Sexism In Ibsen’s The Doll’s House

English A1 Oral Presentation Transcript Portrayal of Sexism in Henrik Ibsen’s ‘The Doll’s House’ Ibsen was a pioneer of the realistic social drama. Unlike playwrights who came before him, he was very concerned with portraying realistic social settings and illustrating a conflict resulting from social pressures and mores. Ibsen also endeavors to show the blatant sexism rampant in the country at the time. This is shown In part by the unequal nature of Torvald and Nora’s marriage.

At first glance, one might think that the Helmers have a successful marriage—but only at a superficial level. Once we delve beyond the comfort of middle-class security, we see that the foundation of the marriage is built on the utter subservience of the woman. Additionally, Nora’s actions show that—with good reason—she does not truly respect her husband’s value system. Her day is filled with constant acts of subterfuge—some minor, like sneaking macaroons, and some of the utmost importance, like paying back a loan that saved her husband’s life. No matter the level, deceit is a constant in the relationship. This outwardly typical, happy marriage is anything but. In fact, the interactions between husband and wife serve a specific purpose: they illustrate the banality of the discourse between the two. Torvald does not address his wife regarding any subject of substance. Instead, he bestows her with pet names that often begin with the personal pronoun “my” and often include the diminutive “little”: “Is that my little lark?” In this respect, Torvald may think he is flattering his wife. However, he is actually reducing her to a cute, harmless pet—one that is clearly owned. And like a pet, Nora is expected to obey her owner/husband and his petty tyrannical r…

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…The play demonstrates this in the following lines: Helmer: Before anything else, you’re a wife and mother. Nora: I don’t believe that any more. I believe that before anything else, I’m a human being, just as much a one as you are … or at least I’m going to turn myself into one … I want to think everything out for myself and make my own decisions. Nora must be true to herself in order to participate in society in a meaningful manner. Her relationship with her children has been marred by her relationships with her father and husband; she treats her children as dolls, and they are apt to grow up in the same manner, with the same inability to be true to themselves. By the end of the play, Nora realizes that she cannot properly fulfill her duties as a mother until she learns how to become a person first. In this sense, her abandonment of her children is an act of mercy.

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