Perhaps we have all felt the urge to “escape” to some tropical paradise. However, as individuals we have responsibilities and obligations to school, friends and family. These responsibilities and obligations usually keep us from “escaping”. It is difficult to balance our personal need for freedom with our responsibility to others. In Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House, the character of Nora Helmer had suffered greatly to achieve her personal freedom.
A woman of the Victorian period, Nora Helmer was both a prisoner of her time as well as a pioneer. In her society women were viewed as a inferior to men and were not provided full legal rights. Women of that era were expected to stay at home and attend to the needs of their spouse and children. Nora was a free spirit just waiting to spread her wings; her husband Torvald would constantly disallow the slightest pleasures that she aspired to have, such as macaroons. (TEACHER COMMENT: THIS STATEMENT WOULD HAVE A BETTER EFFECT IF IT WERE DIRECTLY QUOTED FROM THE PLAY.)
Nora lived a life of lies in order to hold her marriage together. She kept herself pleased with little things such as telling Dr. Rank and Mrs. Linde, “I have such a huge desire to say-to hell and be damned” (Ibsen 59)! She did this just so she could release some tension that was probably building inside her due to all the restrictions that Torvald had set up, such as forbidding macaroons. The need for her to consume these macaroons behind her controlling husband’s back was a way for her to satisfy her sense of needing to be an independent woman.
Upon the arrival of her old friend Kristine Linde, Nora took it upon herself to find her friend a job…
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…ority says, or what’s written in books. I have to think over these things myself and try to understand them (Ibsen 111).
In her leaving and the abandoning of her family and the memories that coincide with them, Nora was able to gain her freedom as an individual and was now in search for new responsibilities. We all have wanted to go out on our own and fulfill our responsibility to ourselves. However our need to find our individuality can lead to our downfall, or our success. In Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House, an estranged wife, Nora Helmer; suffered to become an individual in her own right and took accountability for her actions to achieve her freedom.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. Introduction to Literature: Reading, Analyzing, and Writing.2nd ed. Ed. Dorothy U. Seyler and Richard A. Wilan. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1990.
Comparing the Treatment of Women in Hedda Gabbler, A Doll’s House and Ghosts
Women as Victims in Hedda Gabbler, A Doll’s House and Ghosts
In Ibsen’s plays – Hedda Gabbler, A Doll’s House and Ghosts – the female protagonists of Hedda Gabler, Nora and Mrs. Alving demonstrate how social expectations and restrictions of women impacts the life every woman on a very personal level.
Conservative social and religious leaders imposed women’s restricted social roles. Women had to be married; there was not another socially acceptable option. After marriage they had to stay with their families and fulfill their social and moral duty regardless of their personal feelings or how their husbands treated them. Ibsen presents his characters Hedda, Nora and Helene as victims of the patriarchal system of family and marriage that was supported by the church and society in general. In these plays, Ibsen did not present marriage as a blissful state of love and mutual respect; in the case of Hedda and Mrs. Alving the main objective of marriage was to maintain a socially acceptable image. In Nora’s case her husband was constantly concern about what people might think about their family. In each play there is an emphasis on the effort of the women to maintain the appearance of happy marriage regardless of how pitiful the actual circumstances might be. Eventually, each woman becomes aware of her plight and takes a drastic measure to liberate herself – regardless of the personal costs.
Although Hedda’s personality is much stronger than that of Nora and Mrs. Alving, she also is victimized by the prevailing social norms. Hedda’s fate results from her unconscious decision to be like her father. Hedda is a woman with masculine view of the world. Her hobby is to shoot guns which is an…
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… Sensational Heroines in Mid-Victorian Society.” Thesis. Brigham Young U, 1990.
Fjelde, Rolf. Henrik Ibsen: The Complete Major Prose Plays. 1st. ed. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Reyerson Ltd. 1978
Hemmer, Bjorn. “The dramatist Henrik Ibsen.” http://odin.dep.no/ud/nornytt/ibsen.html
Ibsen, Henrik. Four Major Plays: A Doll’s House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Ibsen, Henrik. Hedda Gabler. New York: Dover, 1990.
Lyons, Charles R. Hedda Gabler, Role and World. 1990. Twayne’s Masterwork Studies 62. Boston: Twayne, 1991.
Mazer, Cary M. “Hedda Gabler.” http://www.english.upenn.edu/~cmazer/hedda.html.
Salomé, Lou. Ibsen’s Heroines. Ed. and trans. Siegfried Mandel. Redding Ridge: Black Swan, 1985.
Worthen, W.B. Anthology of Drama. New York: Harcourt Brace and Company 1993