A Dolls House
Gender Conflict in “A Doll’s House”
Throughout the novel A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, an apparent issue that is portrayed is gender conflict. In the children comic strip we have created we have aimed to highlight numerous concept including the inequitable problem of gender conflict. Nora Helmer represents a feministic viewpoint in an oppressed position. Trapped in her role of the “doll”, Nora struggles to break free. A Doll’s house reveals the constricted role of women during the Victorian age and the dilemmas that will arise from the unjust imbalance of power between men and women.
The gender difference approach analyzes how society treats men and women differently. Women are typically placed in roles that do no enable women the chance to become, Nora self-aware or independent. Women’s “role” in this time period was commonly to play the role of the stay at home mother whom takes care of the children, cooks, cleans, maintaining a well kept appearance, and most importantly never defying their husband. Whereas men are expected to sustain a well respectable, distinguished status while going to work to provide for their family. This is demonstrated throughout the relationship of others in the novel including Nora and Torvald; living the true stereotypes of men and women. Torvald calls Nora juvenile names such as “my songbird, my sweet little lark.”(Ibsen 16) This implies that Torvald does not respect her as a women or his wife but rather as a child or a doll; a significant metaphor in this play.
Torvald also implies that Nora is not intelligent or responsible degrading her significantly. When Nora suggests financial advice he responds by saying “Nora, Nora! Just like a woman! I am serious.” (Ibsen 12) This suggests that not only Nora is foolish but on top of that women in general as well. In act one Torvald does not allow Nora to consume macaroons because Nora says, “the fact is he is afraid of them ruining my teeth.”(Ibsen 34) While this treatment does seem to mildly frustrate Nora, she plays along with it, calling herself “little Nora” and promising that she would never fantasize of ever rebelling against her husband. Despite this there are clues that she is not entirely happy with the restricted position she has as a woman. When revealing the secret of how she borrowed money to pay the trip to Italy, she refers to it as her “pride” and says it was fun to be in control of money, explaining, “it was so much fun sitting there, working, earning money. It almost felt like being a man.”(Ibsen 29)
In addition to women fulfilling the said stereotype, men are also expected to play a particular role; shown throughout Torvald and Krogstad. They are both very ambitious men driven not only by the need to provide for their families but also by a desire to achieve higher status. When Krogstad finds out there is a possibility of Torvald firing him he goes to great lengths in attempts to secure his position. Thus being blackmailing Nora by threatening to expose her secret to Toravld of borrowing money from him. He intimidates her by saying “Now you listen to me Mrs. Helmer. If necessary I am ready to fight for my little job at the bank as if I were fighting for my life.”(Ibsen 41)
On the other hand, Torvald was more concerned of his reputation. Throughout the play Torvald always claimed how much he loves and would do anything for Nora however, this completely changes when his reputation is at stake. When Nora’s secret is finally revealed to him his attitude towards her changes entirely and he does this by saying “All there is now is saying what’s left of our shattered lives, keeping up appearances”(Ibsen 106) The actions of these men demonstrates the extent men were willing to go to achieve what they wanted, being power and respect from society and how crucial their reputation was to them.
In conclusion, Henrik Ibsen’s play “The Doll House,” emphasizes the conflicts women face in a male dominant world. The stereotypes and assumptions made in A Doll’s House are revealed in the way Torvald Helmer treats his wife. These assumptions deal with the way in which the male characters see the female characters, on an absolutely stereotypical, gender-related level. Masculine power is lost as a result of female’s ideological awakening, which suggests a new structure of society.
A Review of Henrik Ibsen’s Play, a Doll’s House in View Of a Woman’s Societal Role
In the play, A Doll’s House, written by Henrik Ibesen, the interaction of characters exposes the ideas such as women in society for the audience to think about. For example, from the interaction between Nora and her husband, Torvald, we see that the position of a woman in society at the time is a lot lower than a man and not as capable. Torvald believes that before everything else, Nora is a wife and mother and has control over her. From the last scene where Nora finally learns to stand up for herself, we can clearly see this idea.
A Doll’s House is about a woman, Nora, who suffers from a marriage and deals with things she doesn’t know but thought “a miracle will come true” and everything will be fine after all. Nora had no idea about law but in order to go to Italy for her husband, Torval’s health, she forged a signature and borrowed money from Krogstad behind Torvald’s back. Torvald works at a bank as a manager but he had concerned about Krogsatd so he fires him. Krogstad wants his job back at the bank so he threaten Nora that he will reveal the truth to her husband. Nora believes that Torvald will stand by her side and well understand her sacrifice when he finds out everything. However, Torvald only cares about his own reputation and blame Nora that she does not have the right to raise the children. That’s when Nora realizes how foolish and ignorant she has been and has been treated like a doll for all her life so she decided to leave the house to explore the world herself.
Interaction of Nora and Torvald brings up the idea that women’s function in the society were to be wives and mothers. “Shouldn’t you first understand your place in your own home? … Isn’t it your duty to your husband and children?” Torvald questioned Nora when she decided to leave. He believes that “Before everything else, you’re a wife and a mother.” We as the audience clearly see that back in 1879, women were not considered independent or as capable. Torvald calls Nora by “little scatterbrain” and “little skylark” and refer Nora as small, subservient animals. The animal imagery used again shows women’s role in the society. Women were considered as useless and always need protection. They also needed someone, usually a man, to guide them. Otherwise they will be lost and have no idea what to do. They must rely on someone else. “Yes, do take me in hands, Torvald… show me where I’m wrong, the way you always do.” Nora is worry about the blackmail letter that Krogsatd placed in their letterbox so she asked Torvald anxiously to guide her and practice the dance together. “You see how much I need. You must coach me up to the last minute.”. Torvald also constantly refers to “a little squirrel” shows that women were considered as no real use or silliness. But Nora plays up to it by answering “If only you knew what expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald.” The audience gets a feeling that Nora is so ignorant and has been treated unfairly by her husband. Even though she might be living a wealthy live and her marriage seems wonderful with three adorable kids and a husband who has a decent job but she is actually suffering under Torald’s control.
Another idea that the audience gets from the interaction between two main characters, Torvold and Nora shows the idea women were not expected to think differently from their fathers and husbands. They were also not expected to be at an equal position as men in the society. We can see this when Nora tells Kristina, her friend, about borrowing money behind Torvald’s back so they could go on a trip for Torvald’s health. “Besides, Torvald has his pride – most men have – he’d be terribly hurt and humiliated if he thought he owned anything to me.” Nora is right and sure that Torvald will be hurt and humiliated if he finds out he is actually the one who had needed help and protection. When Torvald reads the first letter from Krogstad which was about Nora’s crime of forgery, he was really mad about what Nora had done. He believes that all her actions were ungrateful and ruined his reputation. “What a terrible awakening! … now I find that you’re a liar, a hypocrite – even worse – a criminal!” Torvald does not believe that the only reason why Nora has done it is because of love
and is for his health. “You’ve completely wrecked my happiness, you’ve ruined my whole future! … And I’m brought so pitifully low all because of a shiftless woman!” This again, indicates the idea that a woman’s position in a society is lower than a man and is not allowed to think differently or do things that are not under the male authority figures’ control. After reading the second letter from Krogstad, he found out that Krogstad had retracted his blackmail threat and returned Nora’s note. He tried to return to their previous life. “Nora! I’m saved! … These three days must have been terrible for you.” But Nora recognized that miracles she believed in will never happen and she no longer wants to participate in this fake marriage. “I’ve never seen things so clearly and certainly as I do tonight.” The contemporary audience was shocked by Nora’s action because it was rare for a woman to stand up for herself back in those days. But to the modern audience, Nora is just like another ordinary person who tried to seek the truth and their authentic selves.
Through Nora and Kristina’s conversation, we can again see the idea that women’s function in society is to be wives and mothers unless in unusual cases – when no husband or father are around to support – that was the only time when a woman was expected to work. Nora couldn’t understand Kristina’s situation and why she had to work so hard to live. “He didn’t leave you anything to live on? And no children? … Oh, but Kristina, that can’t be true.” Nora is like a little kid comparing to Kristina who has learn a lot through her experience and journey. But Nora hasn’t learnt or experienced any. “My mother was bedridden and I had three younger brothers to look after.” Kristina explains to her and tells her the reason why she had to marry someone for money. “Nora, Nora! Haven’t you learned sense yet? Even at school you were a terrible spendthrift.” Kristina’s mature tone and point of view again emphasizes Nora’s childishness and ignorant. “I just had to struggle along… I haven’t a father to pay for my fare, Nora.” The viewers realize how hard living must have been for Kristina under society’s pressure and prejudice of women. She had to marry for money and worked hard after her husband’s death because no one is there to support her like Nora has.
In conclusion, I strongly agree that in the play, A Doll’s House, written by Henrik Ibesen, the interaction of characters exposes ideas for the audience to think about. Through the interactions between Torvald and Nora, also among Nora and Kristina, the audience clearly sees one of the main themes in the play – Women in Society – how they were limited from seeking the truth and learning from the real world and suffer under a male authority figure’s control.
Evaluation of Nora’s Life Purpose as Described in Henrik Ibsen’s Play, a Doll’s House
“Who She Wants to Be”
In the end of the “A Doll’s House”, Nora realizes that her father and husband has been controlling her all her life. A quote from a poem that I have read before really reminded me of the situation Nora is entrapped in. The quote read, “She is stuck between who she is, who she wants to be, and who she should be”. It struck me that Nora had a huge decision to make during their conversation. She did not know if she should leave behind her duties as a wife and mother, “who she should be”, as during that time period, women’s main focus was to take care of her family. Or abandon “who she is”, someone who has let others control who she is and someone who does not know who she is anymore. The third option, “who she wants to be”, is a fresh opportunity. Leaving her family would allow her to rediscover herself. During her conversation with Torvald, she is trapped between “who she is, who she wants to be and who she should be”. In the ending of “A Doll’s House”, Nora reveals how all her life, she has been a puppet to her father and husband as they played with her, pulling on her strings, making her act how they want her to act. After a series of eye-opening events, Nora quickly realizes how much she has let others dominant and take control over her. She finds out that even she does not know who she is anymore as her voice being drowned out by her husband and father. She realizes that she needs to focus more on figuring out who she is in order to make sure she has not yet lost her true self. She finally decides to leave everything behind to focus more on figuring out who she is as a person. Trapped between the different option, Nora ultimately decides that she needs to work on finding her true purposes in life and who she wants to be.
In the play, Nora falsified her father’s signature in order to loan money for a trip to Italy that would help cure her husband’s sickness. Many years later, the information on the forgery was written in a letter and delivered to her. After reading the letter Torvald, becomes filled with rage that his wife that he controlled so much did something against his will. Nora’s husband had always been in control of what Nora wears, does and buys also not liking her doing certain things, like eating macaroons. Torvald nearly burst out of anger that Nora did something that, although have been against the law, saved his life. After witnessing his reaction, she realizes that she “…acquired the same taste as [her husband]; or [she] only pretended to …” (182). An example of her doing something that her husband likes that she might not like to do is dancing. Before Torvald opens the letter, she danced the Tarantella in an extravagant dress for a crowd of people. It is not known if Nora actually enjoys doing it but it is clear that dancing is something Torvald enjoys. Nora may not actually like dancing in front of crowds but due to her being controlled by her husband and what she likes forced to match that of her husband, she dances for everyone at the party. Torvald’s response towards the letter revealing her forgery also reminds her of how when her father was still alive, “he told me all his opinions, and then I had the same opinions; and if I had others, I hid them; because he wouldn’t have liked it” (182). Her father forced her to believe what he thought was right, her voice and opinions only echoes of her father because if she spoke her true feelings aloud, her father would not like it. After doing that all her life, her true thoughts were unknown as all of her beliefs are what others forced onto her.
She always goes along with how others want her to behave and her husband forcing her to like the same things that he did. They played her as if she was a doll as they controlled her every aspect. Nora was not allowed to feel a certain way because it would upset her father and was not allowed to like a certain food or object because it would upset her husband. Because she was not allowed to think for herself, she lost her voice as every opinion she held was forced away into the dark. Nora figures out that all her life she has been hiding behind her father and husband’s shadows, sucking her into void where she no longer really knew who she was. This is so significant because Nora finally understands how much everyone has been taking control over her. She knows she has other duties, being a mother and a wife, but now understands that her duty as a human comes first. She finally realizes how much she was a doll to her father and husband and knows that is not who she wants to be. In the search for searching deeper within herself to figure out what her purpose and personality is, she makes the decision to leave her family for a while and to seek her inner self and “who she wants to be”.
An Assessment of Henrik Ibsen’s Play, a Doll’s House Vs. the Film Adaptation
Throughout the realm of literature, detail is most prominent in written works such as play script, novels, etc. Often times, much of the intricacy of written language vanishes when converting text into a film. In Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House, extreme detail showcases aspects of character personalities as well as subtle physical actions that are more difficult for an individual to notice when the features are not written out. Ibsen’s play was converted into a movie in the early 1970’s, resulting in a loss of detail and alterations in events, dialogue, and various other qualities; however, both the play and the film share a few key similarities.
In the first scene of A Doll’s House, differences occur when comparing the play to the film adaptation. The play begins with a somewhat lengthy description of the setting as well as the first character introduced, Nora, entering her home from the back door. In contrast, the movie begins with Nora riding in a horse-drawn sled. Another notable difference can be observed when the character Ellen is introduced. The initial words spoken in the play are from Nora to Ellen; however, in the film, Ellen remains unspoken to for quite some time. Some similarities combine with differences to create semi-separate versions of the story; for example, the play describes Torvald leaving his office to speak with Nora as well as Nora hiding macaroons in her pocket. Conversely, Nora enters Torvald’s office in the film and she hides the macaroons in their grand piano.
Exclusions of dialogue present themselves in the first scene of the movie when Torvald completely skips explaining why Nora spends a plethora of money. The play describes Torvald offering Nora an in-depth explanation for her spending habits; he believes it is simply heredity or “in the blood”. Another rather large dialogue alteration occurs when Nora, in the play, vaguely speaks of purchasing presents. In the film, however, Nora highlights the amazing qualities of the gifts she has bought for the children. Furthermore, slight to major alterations dialogue alterations can be noted throughout the entire first scene; for instance, in the play, Torvald refers to Nora as his “twittering lark” whereas the film displays an altered version- “little skylark”.
In addition to changes in events as well as dialogue, similarities arise between the play and the movie. Torvald and Nora, in both the play and film, argue over money, discuss macaroons, and highlight the greediness of Nora and the quality of appeasement displayed by Torvald. Also, keywords such as “lark”, “squirrel”, and “New Year’s” are emphasized in both versions of the story due to their significance. Essential parts of dialogue remain present, such as Torvald accusing Nora of “enjoying confections”, Nora distinctly telling Torvald he is “not allowed to see [the presents] until this evening”, and Mrs. Linden stating “I see you don’t recognize me” when first encountering Nora.
Overall, the similarities and differences showcased in the play and film allow the story to be told in two separately unique ways. The majority of significant details in events and discussions between characters were conveyed identically in the play and film. Nora’s obsession with money, Torvald’s ignorance towards Nora’s monetary affairs, and the importance of Christmas to the characters all are portrayed very clearly in the play and movie. Although alterations from the play to the film force the story to lose some of its depth as well as intricacy, the ultimate result of the translation from text to visual adaptation proves to be a successful literary journey.
A Doll House By Henrik Ibsen: an Issue Of The Relationship Between Men And Women
Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House focuses on a Norwegian middle-class family whose very survival is threatened by long-held secrets revolving around family dynamics. The characters portray the complexities underlying the relationships between men and women. Some aspects of the play mirror certain elements in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles. This analysis focuses on the theme of the relationship between men and women as portrayed in Ibsen’s A Doll House.
A common thread that runs through all the relationships between the male and female characters is the power dynamics between the genders, which generally work against the women. Therefore, both plays can be conceived to be treatises in feminist thought. The thematic analysis undertaken herein will focus on four areas of concern: sexism, economic disparity, the role of love in marriage, and identity.Instances of sexism in which women are viewed unfavorably by the men on the basis of their gender are common in A Doll House. For instance, throughout the play, it is clear that the dominant men in Norah’s life expect her to conform to their perceived standards of femininity. Her father and her husband have certain expectations in regard to how she ought to behave herself and what she is capable of doing with her life. Torvald, Nora’s husband, asserts that it is costly to keep a woman such as her as he has to keep spending money on her. This implies that Nora is unable to properly manage her finances simply because she is a woman. During the final confrontation with her husband, Nora also makes it clear that her own father viewed her as nothing more than a toy with which he could amuse himself.
All these instances illustrate that some of the men in A Doll House maintain an archaic view of women that reeks of blatant sexism.Another instance of blatant sexism appears when Krogstad is appealing to Nora to save his job at the bank by convincing her husband not to fire him. The logic of his request is that as a woman, Nora has an inexplicable influence over her husband that can make him do her bidding.
Krogstad. Mrs. Helmer, will you have the kindness to employ your influence on my behalf?
Nora. What? How do you mean?
This conversation speaks to a prevailing notion at the time that women can get what they want from the men with whom they are romantically engaged by employing their ‘feminine charm.’ The idea recurs when Krogstad suspects for a moment that the only reason Mrs. Linde wants to get back together with him is to help her friend Nora out of her fix. It is worth noting that this depiction of women is humiliating, as it casts them as purely manipulative individuals who exploit their sexuality to get their way in life.
Trifles contain scenarios that echo the sexism in A Doll House. In several instances, Henderson, the County Attorney, muses that the women helping them to scour for evidence in the Wrights’ residence are preoccupied with mundane issues that only women can be obsessed with. These sentiments are supported by Mr. Hale who asserts that “women are used to worrying over trifles”. Throughout the play, the men’s attitude towards their female counterparts is condescending and patronizing. This stems from the worldview that permeated much of the 20th century regarding a woman’s place supposedly being in the kitchen. In both Trifles and A Doll House, the assessment of women’s worth by men and society at large is based on their ability to effortlessly keep a home. Sexism is, therefore, one of the main factors connecting the two texts.
The relationship between men and women in A Doll House is marked by a glaring economic disparity between the genders. For instance, the Helmers’ relationship is shown to be sustained by Nora’s dependence on her husband’s financial ability. This makes her eager to please him even in instances where they disagree on financial matters. The economic disparity between the couple therefore radically alters the power dynamics in favor of Torvald. Similarly, Mrs. Linde leaves her true love to marry a rich man so that she can be able to support her ailing mother and take care of her two brothers. The experiences of Nora and Mrs. Linde show that women have to sacrifice personal interest and integrity just to survive in their patriarchal society, while the men leverage their financial to compel women to submit to their will.Both Trifles and A Doll House illustrate that love plays a fundamental role in the success of a marriage or the romantic relationship between men and women. Relationships that lack this crucial ingredient appear to be unsustainable over the long term, often occasioning misery to the unloved party. In A Doll House, Mrs. Linde makes it clear that her marriage to her rich suitor was a loveless union as her true love was Krogstad. It is, therefore, unsurprising that she was emotionally unfulfilled and unhappy after her husband’s death. These feelings eventually push her to reconnect with Krogstad and re-establish their relationship. Similarly, the Helmers’ marriage eventually crumbles because Torvald is more obsessed with the mere appearance of happiness rather than happiness itself; causing him to be selfish towards Nora. The implication here is that marriages of convenience cannot last long because they are founded on falsehoods.
A more tragic outcome of a loveless union is portrayed in Trifles when Mrs. Wright is revealed to have murdered her husband after years of emotional neglect. Ultimately, the lack of love in a marriage is shown to be the primary cause of the marital collapse and emotional unfulfillment between men and women.A key theme regarding the relationship between men and women in both plays is identity or a conceptualization of the self. Oftentimes, one’s sense of identity is impacted by close romantic engagement, such as is in the case of marriage. Owing to the intimacy shared between two romantic partners, one can lose themselves in the union by allowing it to define who they are. For example, in Nora’s moment of epiphany after speaking her mind to her husband, it is clear that the marriage caused her to maintain a façade over such a long period of time that she eventually convinced herself that her identity revolved around pleasing Torvald. Alternatively, adverse emotional events in marriage, such as emotional neglect and abuse, can also negatively impact how one view themselves. This is illustrated in Trifles by Mrs. Wright’s transformation from a happy and lively young lady to a sad loner after her marriage. The implication here is that it is important for both men and women to establish a strong sense of self before getting into a romantic union with each other if the union is to survive the vicissitudes of life.The relationship between men and women has informed many literary works for decades.
Trifles and A Doll House are part of this literary tradition as they contain the vividly illustrate the factors that influence this relationship and the dynamics that underlie them. Common trends that emerge in the portrayal of the relationship between men and women in both plays include sexism, economic disparity between the two genders, the impact of love or its absence in the sustenance of romantic engagements, and development of identity within the context of marriage. Each trend has been analyzed exhaustively. Ultimately, Ibsen and Glaspell skillfully weave narratives that shed light on the exploitative dynamics underlying the relationship between men and women in a patriarchal society.
Significance Of The Female Characters in Othello By William Shakespeare And a Doll’s House By Henrik Ibsen
Overtime, the role of the woman has changed significantly and has allowed for many more opportunities for them. Men have always been seen as more powerful and dominant over women however, women have developed the abilities and strengths to prove that they are capable of things just as the man is. The female characters are extremely significant in both William Shakespeare’s “Othello” and Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”. They aid in developing plot as well as develop the other characters throughout the play. The importance of the female characters in both plays is represented by their strengths and/or powers being underestimated, their ability to express innocence in the play and be peace keepers, and their determination to prove their independence. As women are seen as less powerful than men, their strengths and abilities are often underestimated.
In the play Othello, Iago tends to misjudge Emilia’s capabilities. He believes that she cannot complete certain tasks that could help him in ensuring his plan runs smoothly. Emilia is not informed of Iago’s evil plan when she receives possession of the handkerchief for him. Previous to this incident, Iago has told Emilia that he wants the handkerchief that Othello gave to Desdemona. Desdemona accidentally drops the handkerchief in her room and Emilia later finds it and gives it to Iago as he has desired it for so long. When she brings it to him he says, “Do not you chide; I have a thing for you… you have a thing for me? It is a common thing-… To have a foolish wife”. Iago pushes Emilia away because at first he thinks she is trying to pleasure him. He thinks this way because it was very stereotypical for women to behave in that way towards their husbands in that time era. Also he would not expect much more from his wife as he has yet to realize her potential. The stereotypes of women being less powerful than men are also illustrated in Othello when Iago expresses his true beliefs and intentions of women. He reveals how he sees women when he says, “… Wild-cats in your kitchens, saints in your injuries, devils being offended, players in your housewifery, and housewives in your beds”. Iago shares this thought he endures of what a women’s purpose is to Desdemona and Emilia. He claims that women are only good for cooking, cleaning, and sleeping with. This proves how all women are underestimated and labeled with specific tasks, and do not get much of a say when trying to defend themselves of this.
In similar ways, Nora Helmer in A Doll’s House is the main female character in which is looked down on. Her husband, Torvald Helmer, treats her like a child and believe she lacks the ability to do things on her own. Torvald puts limits on how much she is allowed to spend, what she eats (being strict about the macaroons), and calls her very childish names including “Squirrel” and “Little Songbird”. Torvald constantly calls her these names including when he says, “And I wish you to be only as you are, my songbird, my sweet little lark”. By calling her these names it is indicating that he does not take his own wife seriously and treats her as if she were his daughter. It also demonstrates the dominance and control Torvald has over her because he is un-informed of her true abilities and does not have much trust in her. Nora also demonstrates a lack of power and strength when she realizes for herself that not many people can take her seriously. When she talks to Mrs. Linde, she notices that she seems to be doubting her. Nora strongly dislikes this and begins to get upset, she says “you’re like everybody else. You all think I’m incapable of doing anything serious”. This verifies that Nora is immature and not trusted by many. The fact that she is a female makes it much more difficult for her because she is already not taken seriously because of her personality and is continuously doubted of her strengths for being a woman.
Women are challenged with the ability to show innocence in the play and act as peacemakers. In Othello, Emilia assists Desdemona in proving she is innocent when Othello begins to accuse her of cheating. Desdemona is very honest and caring so, when Othello gets angry at her she says, “Something sure of state, … Emilia, I was- unhandsome warrior as I am- arranging his unkindness with my soul; but now I find I had suborn’d the witness And he’s indicated falsely”. Although Othello is being manipulated into thinking Desdemona is cheating on him, Desdemona remains calm and blames his anger on stress from the state. She is oblivious to the fact that her husband is accusing her of cheating and continues to act calm, as she has done no wrong. Emilia tried to reassure Desdemona by explaining how Othello may be jealous, but Desdemona continues to believe it is stress from work that he is taking out on her. She is keeping peace by refraining from any more arguments. Emilia successfully portrays innocence when she explains the true story of what happened with the handkerchief. She did not have anything to do with Iago’s evil plan and explains, “O thou dull Moor, that handkerchief thou speak’s of I found by fortune and did give my husband… He begg’d of me to steal it. Emilia is not guilty because she is simply trying to please her husband’s wishes by performing a caring gesture towards him. She did not know of any consequences that would have come by doing this for Iago. Her actions were to express love and kindness to her husband and were not intended to do any harm, thus making her innocent.
The same idea of innocence and peacemaking occurs by Nora in A Doll’s House when she tries to reassure Dr. Rank and distract him from the news he has received. After Dr. Rank tells Nora that he may die soon, she tries to comfort him and says, “You are talking non-sense. I wanted you to be so happy today”. She tries to show him the positive side of the situation, thus showing how she is spreading peace and innocence within the story. Nora also demonstrates peace and innocence through the forging of she father’s signatures. When Torvald was sick and was told he must travel to Italy to heal, the Helmer’s realized they did not have enough money to go. Nora pretended to be her father and signed his name on a contract t get the money to pay for the trip. When she is questioned about the signatures by Krogstead she says, “Is a daughter not allowed to protect her dying father from worry and care? Is a wife not allowed to save her husband’s life? I don’t know much about the law. But I’m pretty sure there must be laws that allow things like that”. Nora did this in order to save her husband’s life and not make her father have any worries before he died. She was being considerate of others and was not thinking of consequences because she did not know of any, therefore proving how she is naive and innocent.
Independence and the ability for one to speak their opinion is demonstrated in various instances throughout each of the plays. The first indicator of this is in Othello when Emilia speaks to Desdemona about her true feelings and thoughts on men. She explains to Desdemona, “But I do think it is their husband’s faults if wives do fall. Say that they slack their duties…” This quote proves that Emilia is an independent woman because she goes against her husband’s beliefs. In this time period, women were supposed to agree wit and support their husbands. By Expressing her own opinion Emilia is proving her independence. Emilia once again shows courage and independence when she tells Othello the real story of what happened with Iago and goes against/disobeys Iago. Once Desdemona is killed, Emilia speaks in order to defend her and says, “ ‘Twill out, ‘twill out. I peace! No, I will speak as liberal as the North; Let heaven, and men, and the devils, let them all, All, all cry shame against me, yet I’ll speak”. In this quote, Emilia stands up to Iago and betrays him. Once he demands her to stop talking Emilia refuses to listen and continues on to speak on behalf of Desdemona. She says she does not care who cried shame against her because she knows she needs to be brave and stand up for herself. Emilia is showing great courage and determination proving how she continues to become more independent.
In contrast to this suggestion of independence, in the play A Doll’s House, Nora begins to prove to people that she is able to do things on her own. When speaking to Kristine Linde, Nora explains to her that she was the one who got the money to be able to go on the trip and save Torvald. She says, “Come over here. Oh yes, I’ve got something to be proud of. It was I who saved Torvalds’s life”. Nora figured out a way to get the money on her own with no help from anyone and kept it a secret. This shows significant maturity in her as well as independence because she has always been seen as childish and never been taken seriously. The final factor if proving independence is when Nora stands up for herself to Torvald. She takes lead and forces hum to look at their relationship from a different perspective. She says, “No. you mustn’t interrupt me. I want you to just listen to what I have to say”. Nora finally gained enough nerve to tell Torvald how she really feels about their relationship. This is the first time in the play that her own opinion is heard and she expresses independence in doing so. She proves that she is capable of doing things on her own and does not need to depend on Torvald anymore. By returning the ring and leaving him, she shows significant maturity and is the final way she proves that she is independent.
In conclusion, the female characters in each play are extremely significant. Men and Women have grown and will continue to grow and change. Equality is very important for both genders. Everyone should be treated equally no matter what age, race, gender, etc. Throughout the year’s women have become more powerful and motivated to do things that people believed they were incapable of. Women have created a very strong impact on society and will continue to do so.
A Doll’s House History
- A Doll’s House was published in Norway in 1879.
- The play caused an immediate sensation and sparked debate and controversy.
- It was highly provoking: People tended to respond strongly to it whether in praise or censure.
- The play has less shock value today, but in the late nineteenth century, performing it was often, as one critics puts it ‘’ A revolutionary action, a daring defiance of the cultural norms of the time.’’ (National Library of Norway, 2005)
The story is set in the context of 19th Century Norwegian society where there are certain predetermined roles for different genders. Meyer (2008) reveals that the story “ highlights the cultural conflicts” of the time (p 3). The traditional middle class morality based on the dominance of the male gender bases the institution of the family not on the feelings of love and affection rather it sees the welfare of the family institution in the form of certain established power relationships. Johnston(1989) also indicates that it takes family as a mini state where the authority has to go to some autocratic power. The base of this family institution is not democratic. Here one person has to be dominant- the rule maker who is to be followed by others.
The enforcement of specific gender roles by societal standards not 19th century married life proved to be suffocating. From the very outset the reader can feel that this seemingly simple family drama may turn into a kind of tragedy which may arise some serious questions. The apparent love of the couple in the opening of the play is further exposed as a compromise relationship between man and wife governed by certain rules imposed by the male member of the family. Ibsen uses the character development of Nora Helmer, the protagonist, and Torvald Helmer, the antagonist, to emphasize the importance of communication in a healthy relationship. The female member changes different roles according to will and choice of the male partner. Sometimes she is a chattering ‘skylark’, on the other she is a beautiful doll that is decorating the surroundings in which she lives. Gender roles have to be established from the beginning. One of the couple has to dominate the scene; the other should modify herself, sacrifice her inner desires and think only the welfare of the others.
The characters of the play demonstrate masculine and feminine roles and expectations that produce a marriage based on gender inequality. Torvald is the typical masculine stereotype who is expected to control his family’s affairs, including his wife’s. As a husband and a father, he sees himself as the dominant breadwinner and source of authority in his family. He highly values his role as a breadwinner because in his society, a successful man is someone who has a big income and high social status. He tells his wife: “It is splendid to feel that one has a perfectly safe appointment and a big enough income” (Ibsen Act 1). Society conditions men to think about money most of the time because money gives them power, and so Torvald wants to control the source of money in his household. Moreover, Torvald’s patriarchal attitudes can be seen in how he treats his wife, such as when he calls her a “little lark” or a “little squirrel” (Ibsen Act 1). He also believes that it is “like a woman” to not consider the consequences of their actions (Ibsen Act 1). Torvald sees his wife as a “little” object, someone who is inferior to him because she is a woman. Moreover, Torvald even thinks that immorality comes from women, not men. He tells Nora: “Almost everyone who has gone to the bad early in life has had a deceitful mother” (Ibsen Act 1). Nora is quite offended with this belief, but Torvald honestly thinks that bad people are generally products of bad mothers, which indicates his poor perceptions of women. Torvald does not want Nora to grow as a person because she might be a threat to his authority. Instead, he keeps her locked up in their house and ensures that she depends on him for money and social relationship.
The writer presents the characters in stereotype form as should conform to the existing beliefs of the Norwegian society which believed in male dominance and gave the husband the role of laborer. The superiority of husband over his spouse is evident in the speech of Torvald and his chosen metaphor that represent women as weak or diminutive creature. The husband of the story has the right to impose any kind of sanctions on his wife. Siddall (2008) explains it in this way, “Gender in A Doll’s House is crucial to the plays meaning. Gender is simplified in order to define the marital roles: men work and women play; the husband is responsible and well-informed, while the wife as grown-up child decorates his life charmingly” (p 13). Woman as a weaker sex, Nora has been described as ‘little squirrel’, ‘little skylark’. Such diminutive roles portray her as weaker sex. Torvald assumed notions about the fair sex make him believe that she is a weaker sex which always needs the protection of the male sex. She is a pretty doll and she should be confined to her home. She should think about the welfare of her home, husband and family. Woman as creature of home Mayer (2008) reflects that “Ibsen’s Nora Helmer is a doll trapped in her house, a condition underscored by the fact that all the play’s action takes place in her own living room. Repressed by a husband who expects her to fulfill her wifely and motherly roles under strict guidelines of morality and appearance” (p 3).
Male roles are also quite pronounced. Husband is the laborer of the family so is Torvald who thinks that it is his duty to provide for his family. According to his typical male thinking of that time women have no role in family finances. They are just to maintain the household affairs. They need not worry to earn money for the sake of the family even the thought of his wife lending him money may hurt his male. Nora changed this role with Helmer when he was ill. She did sewing work in order to support for her family. But this sacrifice was taken for granted by Torvald and at the time of crisis he even forgot to acknowledge her selfless efforts for the family. That’s why, He is a product of his time.
Ibsen uses metaphors too to explore the theme of marriage and its reinforcement of gender inequality in society. The doll’s house is a metaphor for their marriage, where they are all imprisoned in it, and women are the worse off of them all because their main roles are to serve their husbands and children. Men are trapped, not just women, because they have to meet social expectations. Torvald is overly conscious of how society sees him, which is why he gets so mad at Nora for faking her father’s signature to get a loan. Nora is right in her assessment of how he would have reacted to her “saving” him, which she tells Mrs. Linde: “And besides, how painful and humiliating it would be for Torvald, with his manly independence, to know that he owed me anything!” (Ibsen Act 1). Nora is trapped in her marriage and is worse off than Torvald because she is his slave. She cannot do anything she wants, not even eat her precious macaroons, as she tells her husband: “I should not think of going against your wishes” (Ibsen Act 1). As a wife, she has no free will, and without any free will, she cannot be a happy human being.
It can be said that the play Doll’s House clearly show the complexities in matrimonial life caused by the predefined gender roles. The matrimonial bond is at the verge of breakage because of the dominant role of male who fails to probe into the inner self of his better half due to the misconceptions about gender roles. This is a tragic play, not because Nora abandons her family, but because society abandoned her first. Every human being has a right to be free and to find the purpose of their existence. For Nora, the first step is turning away her dollness and doll house and acknowledging that she is nothing because from nothing, she can be someone valuable, someone who has self-respect because she finally owns her life.
Comparison Various Characters Of Both Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” And Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire”
In Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, both playwrights have shed light on the struggles women face to establish their place in the patriarchal society. While in A Doll’s House women finally triumph over patriarchy, in A Streetcar Named Desire, they end up on losing side because they accept their dependency on men for a better life. By comparing various characters of both the plays, one can understand the battle which a woman has to fight to free herself from the restrictions imposed in all spheres by the patriarchal system.
In patriarchy, men hold complete authority over women. When Nora was a child, she was her father’s doll as she tells about her father She married Torvald and became the doll living in her husband’s doll house which is the representation of an ideal family living in the patriarchal society. Similarly, Williams has portrayed Stella as stereotypical submissive women living under patriarchy and Blanche as a woman fighting against patriarchal norms. Loyalty, sexual purity, and endurance define the feminine sphere while violence, lust, and hostility come under masculinity. Women are shown to be dependent on men socially, mentally and economically for their marriage and survival. For example, Stella relies on Stanley for household needs, Mrs. Linde married a businessman instead her love interest Krogstad to support her sick mother and two younger brothers and the nurse Anne-Marie who sacrificed her daughter for her job given by Nora’s father.
The characters of Nora and Blanche highlight the theme of achieving independence by overcoming all the barriers in the patriarchal society.
Both fight for achieving freedom from men, but it’s Nora, who emerges victorious at the end while Blanche ends up getting oppressed. The reason is although Blanche forces Stella to end her abusive relationship with Stanley, she allows herself to depend on men to live a good life such as Mitch and millionaire Shep Huntleigh. Blanche considers marriage as an escape route from all her miseries even after her first marriage ended awfully. In the end, she enters a state of dilemma, incapable of distinguishing between reality and fantasy. which is a sad truth since men have always taken advantage of her solitude to satisfy their lust. She challenged the female archetype in a patriarchal society by choosing to live life in her way and fulfilling her desires.
Nora fights for independence by breaking the notion of women being weak, incapable, and dependent on men. displays her bravery to stand for her freedom and fight male domination. The influence of patriarchy on Nora transformed her character from a docile housewife into a strong, independent, and fearless woman who is powerful enough to create the life she wants. Torvald is ready to disown her for the sake of retaining his reputation. In the end, Nora realizes that her husband is not worthy of her love and takes a big step to leave him forever. A Doll’s House encourages gender equality and shows a woman’s struggle to escape .
Stanley and Torvald are the epitome of patriarchal values. Both are happy in the fact that their wives need them for support. Men regard women as objects and degrade them to just tags such as Torvald always calls Nora while Stanley calls Stella as honey, baby or sweetie. Stanley asserts his dominance over Stella through actions such as giving Stanley’s character becomes more aggressive as the play progresses, for example, throwing away the radio and abusing Stella, smashing the dinner plate and lastly, raping Blanche to prove his gender superiority. On the other side, Torvald puts his reputation first over his wife. He is more focused on blaming Nora for the loss of his status in the society than acknowledging her love for him. He thinks Nora is spendthrift, but the reality is all the money she borrows goes into repaying the debt, which she took for Torvald’s well-being. He fired Krogstad for the same reason since he thinks Krogstad won’t pay him proper respect. Therefore, preserving male ego is the sole priority for patriarchal men over love and marriage.
In my opinion, women’s actions play a key role in defining a man’s character. We see a softer side of Mitch at the starting of play as he cares for his mother and respects Blanche’s feelings. Had Blanche not lied, Stanley would have failed in manipulating Mitch against her. It also proves the two-faced nature of men in patriarchy. Mitch refuses to marry Blanche by saying she is not “clean enough” (10.1872) to live in the same house as his mother. But he doesn’t hesitate from making sexual advances towards her, adapting himself to the masculinity present in the patriarchy. Then, it is Krogstad who is eager to get back his lost reputation, an important trait of patriarchal men, by blackmailing Nora. But, he gives up his thirst for status after Mrs. Linde decides to marry him revealing his good side. He is ready to work again to “win back a place in their eyes”(3.1691). But, it was Kristine, in the first place, who was the reason behind Krogstad’s bad behavior because she left him for another man.The outcome for women in both the plays is different because of women’s discretion to help other women. Stella refuses to believe her sister that her husband has raped Blanche. Instead, she chose to depend on him, leaving Blanche alone in her lowest moment. On the contrary, Kristine helps Nora by manipulating Krogstad to take his letter back and also encourages Nora to fight for her rights since she has Kristine helps Nora overcome the restrictions of patriarchy. That’s why it’s a win for women in A doll’s house while Stella sticks to patriarchy resulting in Blanche meeting a terrible fate. Nevertheless, it is ironic tha (Shideler 189), by asking Torvald for the job, and marrying Krogstad after the death of her first husband.
There are various other aspects of the plays where patriarchal ideology comes into effect. For instance, patriarchy rejects homosexuality. Blanche’s first husband committed suicide because he was gay. It shows that society humiliates women and non-heterosexual people to such an extent that they are forced to commit suicide. Moreover, patriarchy allows only men to drink alcohol while women have to make excuses for the same as Blanche says. Contrarily, Stanley is shown drunk and abusing women throughout the play. Women must depend on men for money as Nora depended on her husband even though they are capable of earning on their own. When Torvald was ill, Nora did various jobs like needlework, embroidery or copying down the papers to repay the loan. She enjoyed earning money by herself as she tells Mrs. Linde “it was wonderful fun, sitting and working like that, earning money. It was almost like being a man”(1.1663).
Both playwrights have used a variety of symbols to bring out the effects of patriarchy. In the end, Stella has to choose between Blanche, an illusion, and Stanley, a reality. She chooses reality which is living with her husband over dream of helping her sister Blanche. The tragedy of a woman is such that the only choice she has is to either struggle or to tolerate. One can interpret this symbolism in another way, such as Mitch and Stanley judged Blanche on her past mistakes instead of the reality that Blanche suffered from alienation and rejection. Ibsen has used symbols in the setting of the play. A doll’s house is set during the week of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. New Year marks the new beginning and the end of old problems. Nora commences her new journey alone in the patriarchal society, leaving behind her husband and children. Torvald will be getting the promotion at the job. Another symbol is the Tarantella dance which was believed to cure Tarantula bite by the Italians in the nineteenth century. Nora is trying to get rid of the poison in their marriage, which is the Krogstad’s letter by performing Tarantella and keeping Torvald busy so that he can’t open the letter.
The title “A Streetcar Named Desire” not only refers to the streetcar in New Orleans but also to Blanche’s desire to find love and affection after the death of her husband. Her liberal lifestyle lands her into various troubles in the patriarchal society as she loses her job, her house and her sanity at the end. The title by her husband and her father respectively. Both have controlled her life according to their benefit. She condemns both at the end saying.
The protagonists in both the plays evoke intense pathos in their final scenes. One can’t help but feel sympathy for Blanche because men have taken advantage of her again and again which leads to her mental breakdown. Similarly, it is shocking to see a submissive woman like Nora making a bold decision to end the dominance of male figures in her life by leaving her husband and children. However, it is sad that other female characters in the play continue to abide by the patriarchal ideology and accept violence and injustice as Eunice says “Life has to go on. No matter what happens, you’ve got to keep on going”(11.1878). Thus, by using various techniques like dialogue, symbol, and setting, women are shown fighting an everlasting battle to extricate themselves from the cage of patriarchy.
The Depiction of the Theme of Sacrifice in Ibsen’s Doll’s House
The premiere of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House in 1879 ended with the shutting of a door but started a passionate debate about that controversial action. Ibsen crafted an exposition of the social, economic, and psychological conflicts faced by the women of his time, through a depiction of the hypocrisy within the seemingly happy marriage of the play’s principal characters, Nora and Torvald Helmer (Smith, 1992). The play particularly raised questions about the notion of female self-sacrifice in a patriarchal world. The classification of gender in the nineteenth century was characterized by two distinct and opposite forms of masculinity and femininity, resulting in strictly defined gender roles. Women were assigned their duties and obligations by the patriarchy, and in matrimony, women functioned as tools to serve others (Hossain, 2016). This obligation invariably meant that a woman’s right to happiness and freedom was almost always completely sacrificed. In A Doll’s House, Ibsen’s construction of ‘sacrifice’ through Nora’s character illuminates the narrowly prescribed male dominance/female subordination gender roles in nineteenth century Norwegian society. However, Nora’s ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice of her children and domestic responsibilities, to discover herself and seek fulfillment, is an act that deviates from all societal expectations of how a woman of those times was meant to behave. Thus, Ibsen challenges these binary gender roles by recasting the type of sacrifice that Nora ultimately makes, to provoke the audience members of the time to question the role of women in marriage and society.
Through the construction of Nora’s sacrifice of her own material comforts to repay the loan she procures, Ibsen illuminates the prescribed role of women as financially dependent spouses. Ibsen introduces a suspenseful flow of events when Nora reveals her secret to Mrs. Linde: in order to save her ailing husband’s life, Nora has procured a loan without Torvald’s knowledge by forging her father’s signature. Nora’s revelation about her dishonesty provides a foreshadowing of future events that results in the unraveling of the Helmers’ seemingly happy marriage. Nora makes personal sacrifices, saving half of the money Torvald gives her and working all hours of the night in order to repay the loan. Ibsen’s use of realistic dialogue between the two women enables the audience to identify with Nora’s plight. Ibsen highlights Norwegian society’s patriarchal structure wherein women have little economic power when Mrs. Linde exclaims, “A wife cannot borrow without her husband’s consent.” Additionally, Nora is compelled to make the necessary sacrifices and repay the loan in secret as she asserts, “How painful and humiliating it would be for Torvald, with his manly independence, to know that he owed me anything!” Thus, Ibsen illuminates the narrowly prescribed gender role of husband as financial provider and wife as dependent through a construction of Nora’s sacrifice of material comforts.
Extending beyond material comforts, Nora’s sacrifice of her own opinions and desires to please her husband further illuminates the prescribed role of women as submissive wives. Torvald forbids Nora from eating macaroons, and Nora replies, “I would never dream of doing anything you didn’t want me to.” Using the everyday issue of food preferences, Ibsen hints at the reality of Nora’s unpalatable situation: she lives in a society with a binary power structure wherein the man dominates and the woman submits. Additionally, Ibsen uses symbolism to convey the psychological state of his characters. A key dramatic moment in the play is Nora’s dancing of the tarantella. It can be viewed as a symbol of Nora herself: the dance is frivolous on the surface just like Nora, who maintains a merry and carefree facade. However, the tarantella has a dark history – victims bitten by the poisonous tarantula spider were thought to be cured by frenzied dancing (Lee, 1910) – just like Nora, who has poison in her veins, be it the terrible secret that she harbors and that she fears will “sting” her, or the suppression that she has been subjected to throughout her life. The only way that she can express her repressed feelings and desires is through her wild and frenzied dancing. Nora’s inner torments are hinted at when Torvald exclaims, “You are dancing as if your life depended on it.” The tarantella thus becomes a temporary means through which she can liberate herself from her role as the submissive, self-sacrificing wife.
The concepts of honor and sacrifice are inextricably linked in the play as manly honor and feminine sacrifice were prescribed virtues in nineteenth century Norwegian society
(Hossain, 2016). Through Ibsen’s construction of Nora’s sacrifice of her honor, and Torvald’s refusal to do the same, the audience is illumined by the fact that Nora and Torvald are simply playing out their narrowly prescribed roles. Nora sacrifices her honor and secures a loan through illegal means to save Torvald’s life, making herself vulnerable to Krogstad’s blackmail and Torvald’s wrath. Ibsen’s psychologically penetrating characterizations make Nora’s and Torvald’s struggles extremely convincing. When Torvald opines, “But no man would sacrifice his honor for the one he loves”, Nora responds by asserting, “It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done.” Both Nora and Helmer are acting out their own idealist scripts (Moi, 2006). Nora follows the prescribed role of the woman as the noble and pure figure who sacrifices all for love. Even the illegal act of forging a signature is idealized in her mind and reinforces her sacrifice. Similarly, Torvald is following his idealized script of being an honorable and principled man when he rages at Nora upon discovering her secret, calling her “a hypocrite, a liar, a criminal” despite the irrevocable truth that Nora sacrifices her honor to save HIS life. Thus, by juxtaposing manly honor with feminine sacrifice, Ibsen emphasizes Nora’s unquestioning following of the idealized script that society has imposed upon her.
As the play unfolds, Nora’s realization of the sacrifice of her individuality and independence at the hands of, first her father, and then her husband, is constructed by Ibsen through the use of metaphor, monologue, and symbolism. The doll is the most important metaphor in A Doll’s House and as the “doll” of the title, Nora realizes that she has merely been a plaything for the men in her life with the singular purpose of entertaining them. She realizes that throughout her life, she has sacrificed her own opinions and adopted her father’s and Torvaldʼs views as her own. Through a seminal monologue crafted by Ibsen, Nora reminds Torvald that she has “existed merely to perform tricks” for him and that their home “has been nothing but a playroom”, with Nora being his “doll wife, just as at home (she) was Papa’s doll child”. The Christmas tree also symbolically conveys the transformation of Nora from a doll to a real person. The tree is meant to serve a decorative purpose, just as Nora is viewed by Torvald as a decorative household appendage. The tree’s disarray as the play progresses parallels the unraveling of Nora’s cheerful doll image. Nora then decides to leave the security and stability of her home to reclaim her identity.
Thus, Ibsen recasts Nora’s final sacrifice, radically departing from the forms of sacrifice expected of women during his time. Ibsen’s construction of Nora’s sacrifice of her home and family provoked the audience to question the roles of women in marriage and society. Nora leaving her family to pursue her right to self-fulfillment created a raging controversy and triggered a backlash from men who refused to acknowledge the existence of an oppressive patriarchal society (Templeton, 1989). In fact, Nora was demonized for her obscene selfishness in sacrificing her innocent children. However, Ibsen’s play was enthusiastically received by feminist thinkers in Norway and throughout Europe (Creamer, 2016). Ibsen admitted that he detested “the lie masquerading as sacrifice and duty in our social arrangements”: he saw “sacrifice” as an imposition on women to ensure their subordination (Goldman, 1914). By crafting a modern, realistic drama set in an ordinary living room, with realistic props, detailed stage directions, everyday language, and identifiable characters, Ibsen held up a mirror to his audience, challenging them to think about the realities of their society. With the staging of A Doll’s House, Ibsen’s theatrical images became easily accessible, thus creating empathy for, and identification with, his principal female character (Hossain, 2016). While a realist like Ibsen did not provide solutions to social problems in his theatrical works, he provoked his audience to reflect upon these critical issues.
In the one hundred and thirty nine years since the premiere of A Doll’s House, there have been innumerable productions and adaptations of the play, and it continues to be performed to date (Sanza, 2017). The effectiveness of a text in translation may be impacted by linguistic variation and cultural nuances. However, the continued relevance of the play to contemporary society bears testament to the fact that Ibsen crafted a deeply absorbing and eminently stageable drama with universal themes. While the present social and artistic environments are not similar to those found in Ibsen’s day, the search for love, respect, and individual freedoms still forms the core of humanity (Karim, Fathema, & Hakim, 2015). As Nora declares, one’s most sacred duty is one’s duty to oneself.
“A Doll’s House” – a Play By Henrik Ibsen
A Doll’s House is a controversial play penned by Henrick Ibsen and published in 1979. It features Nora Helmer who leads a superficial life and appears to be a delicate, helpless and silly woman to her chauvinistic husband, Torvalds Helmer. In reality, she is an individual who craves independence and has struggled to protect her husband. She commits an illegal act, one concerning the antagonist Krogstad, for her husband. Her internal conflicts enclose a plethora of emotions. She is torn between her morale, loyalty towards her husband and her wish to go on a path of self-discovery. For all those years, Nora had been playing the part of a puppet and was living in the shadow of shallow Torvalds. Eventually, the conflict in her mind is replaced by her clear and strong decision to leave him, and her children, and start a life of her own. Nora’s final door slam, created a rage and invoked a variety of reactions from the audience.
The idea of feminism is one that has been spoken about since a long time. Divided into different periods, feminism entails five distinct waves. The second wave of feminism lasted for roughly two decades, with an aim to increase equality for women by gaining more than just enfranchisement. The fourth wave of feminism on the other hand focused on justice for women, in terms of sexual harassment and violence against them. A feminist from the second wave of feminism, would propagate the ideas of liberation and free decision making of a woman, with respect to her daily, social and personal life. An anti-feminist from the fourth wave of feminism, on the other hand, could feel that women don’t get a say, when exploited by a man, mentally or physically as they have good reason to do it. It is the difference in a thought process, beliefs and mentality between both the types of readers that’ll shed light on different ways in which the last act of ‘A Doll’s House’, is perceived and interpreted.
In the last act of ‘A Doll’s House’, Nora’s complete change in behavior, bold words, and shocking decisions invoked myriad reactions. The first reader, being the feminist from the second wave of feminism, rejoices and propagates her motive. The ‘Feminist Literary Theory’, which hugely criticizes the patriarchal norms projected in literature, would this time advocate ‘A Doll’s House’, and create love and respect for Nora in the mind of the reader. The ideas of liberation, and a free will of women, despite the monetary dynamics in the house, is exactly what feminists in the second wave fought for. ‘A Doll’s House’, portrays Nora to place her dignity and choice of lifestyle, over her husband, even though he pays the bills. The reader, in this case, would appreciate the plot twist, condemn the character of Torvalds Helmer, and adhere to the feministic set of values that were the foundation of the second wave, while appreciating Henrick Ibsen. The way Torvalds treats his wife Nora, as fragile, weak, dependent and silly, enrages the reader and his character is hence loathed by the feminist. He would be the perfect representation of the class of people that the reader, and similar people fight against. Therefore, in the eyes of the first reader, ‘A Doll’s House’, is a crucial piece of literature, that breaks stereotypes, supports the voices of unheard feminists, and proves how the ideas of women empowerment stem from basic liberation and go way beyond employment.
The second reader, on the contrary, would analyze the last act of ‘A Doll’s House’, with an extremely pessimistic and chauvinistic point of view. Being an anti-feminist, the reader would be disgusted and shocked by Nora’s decision. In the fourth wave of feminism, anti-feminists were infuriated by the demand for women to get justice based on any grounds. This reader would criticize, defame and denounce Henrick Ibsen, for supporting the ideas of women empowerment. Being a probable believer of the norms set by ‘Bourgeois Respectability’, the reader would think of Torvald Helmer as the ideal man and husband. His gestures would seem loving, well placed and caring. The reader would also think, that Torvald did not deserve to be treated the way he was, by Nora. Nora would be perceived as foolish, overtly daring and narcissistic. She would be the exact opposite of what the reader would think of as a perfect wife and mother. ‘A Doll’s House’, would hence be strongly protested against by the second reader. Both the readers, with their points of view, create a blatant distinction in two wide categories of the audience that would have read and thought over the play. While both have their reasons to pass a judgement on the play, it goes about to show the sheer strength of the crowd that Henrick Ibsen had affected, by ‘A Doll’s House’.