In Victorian England, women were expected to be undoubtedly obedient to their fathers, and later in life, servile to their husbands as well. They were normally forbidden to pursue a real education, and would often “devote themselves to their husbands’ happiness” (Roland 10). Throughout history, women have had to make sacrifices for other people’s feelings and lives. They have given up their own lives, freedoms, education, and careers due to their concern for others. A concurrent injustice occurs in Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House. The play’s characters, motifs, and symbols support it’s theme; the sacrifices and decisions pushed onto women by society have hampered them from pursuing their own lives, but there is hope to overcome it.
The two minor women characters, Anne and Mrs. Linde, both make sacrifices for different people in order to make life better for others. During the 1800’s, a chance for a woman to get an advanced education was fairly rare. This limited a woman’s options to low paying job or marrying a well-off man. Anne, the nurse, explains to Nora that when she was young, she was just “a poor girl” led down the wrong path by a “wicked man” (Ibsen 200). Anne was forced to put her daughter up for adoption so she could get a job and survive, but it also provided her daughter with a stable home. Mrs. Linde, an old friend of Nora’s, reappears after ten years and tells Nora of the struggles in her past (Ibsen 180). Due to the familial obligations society often places on women, she had to leave her love, a poor man named Nils Krogstad, to marry a rich man who will able to financially help Mrs. Linde take care of her sick mother and younger brothers (Ibsen 182).
Nora, the main female character of the play, care…
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…ted as a doll all off her life by both her father and Torvald, and decides to leave her family so she can live a life of her own. The meaning of the New Year’s Eve changes to represent how Nora and Torvald will evolve into new people (Ibsen 236). It also shows that it is never too late for any woman to take back her freedom.
Ibsen’s play displays how society’s expectations of woman are unfair to their freedoms and the pursuit of their own lives. The female characters sacrificed having their own lives to better those of others. The motifs contrast what women experience in life and what they deserve. The symbol of New Year’s Eve proves that a woman can reclaim her freedoms.
Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House” The River Reader. Pearson Custom Publishing, 2009
Roland, Paul. The Crimes of Jack the Ripper. Edison: Chartwell Books, Inc., 2007. Print.