The Feminist Movement in A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen Essay

The Feminist Movement in A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

 

In Henrik Ibsen’s, A Doll’s House, the character of Nora Helmer goes through the dramatic transformation of a kind and loving housewife, to a desperate and bewildered woman, whom will ultimately leave her husband and everything she has known. Ibsen uses both the characters of Torvald and Nora to represent the tones and beliefs of 19th century society. By doing this, Ibsen effectively creates a dramatic argument that continues to this day; that of feminism.

We are introduced in Act I with Nora returning from Christmas shopping. Ibsen utilizes this time for dramatic purposes of the Christian holidays and to show the struggle between a middle class marriage. Nora plans on having a big holiday bash, while Torvald would rather refrain since there is a rather limited cash flow. “Nora: Oh yes, Torvald, we can squander a little now…piles of money” (Ibsen 1506). Torvald follows up with, “But then it is three full months till the raise comes through” (Ibsen , 1506).

Nora at this point in the play is nothing more than a child, careless in her action and not thinking ahead of possible consequences. Nora sees nothing wrong in spending big on Christmas. Granted this is a righteous cause, since the holidays are about giving to others, but still a parent should know the limit of happiness they should bring.

At this point Torvald begins to act as “society” and unknowingly begins to use condescending terms towards Nora. “Are you scatterbrains off again?” (Ibsen 1506), “…my dear little Nora.” (Ibsen 1507), (You’re an odd little one” (Ibsen 1507). Torvald sees nothing wrong in these little pet names he gives Nora. He is absolutely right there is nothing wrong with pet name…

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…aged to awaken or give strength to the feminist movement.

Works Cited and Consulted

Durbach, Errol. A Doll’s House: Ibsen’s Myth of Transformation. Boston: Twayne, 1991.

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House (1879). Trans. Rolf Fjelde. Rpt. in Michael Meyer, ed. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 5th edition.

Boston & New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 1999. 1564-1612.

Longford, Elizabeth. Eminent Victorian Women. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1981.

Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart. “The Angel Over the Right Shoulder.” Solomon 1: 156-64.

Solomon, Barbara H., ed. Rediscoveries: American Short Stories by Women, 1832-1916. New York: Penguin Group, 1994.

Templeton, Joan. “Is A Doll House a Feminist Text?” (1989). Rpt. In Meyer. 1635-36.

Templeton, Joan. “The Doll House Backlash: Criticism, Feminism, and Ibsen.” PMLA (January 1989): 28-40.

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