A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen, was written during a time when the role of woman was that of comforter, helper, and supporter of man. The play generated great controversy due to the fact that it featured a female protagonist seeking individuality. A Doll’s House was one of the first plays to introduce woman as having her own purposes and goals. The heroine, Nora Helmer, progresses during the course of the play eventually to realize that she must discontinue the role of a doll and seek out her individuality. David Thomas describes the initial image of Nora as “that of a doll wife who revels in the thought of luxuries that can now be afforded, who is become with flirtation, and engages in childlike acts of disobedience” (Thomas 259). This inferior role from which Nora progressed is extremely important.
Ibsen’s A Doll’s House depicts the role of women as subordinate in order to emphasize the need to reform their role in society. Definite characteristics of the women’s subordinate role in a relationship are emphasized through Nora’s contradicting actions. Her infatuation with luxuries such as expensive Christmas gifts contradicts her resourcefulness in scrounging and buying cheap clothing; her defiance of Torvald by eating forbidden Macaroons contradicts the submission of her opinions, including the decision of which dance outfit to wear, to her husband; and Nora’s flirtatious nature contradicts her devotion to her husband. These occurrences emphasize the facets of a relationship in which women play a dependent role: finance, power, and love.
Ibsen attracts our attention to these examples to highlight the overall subordinate role that a woman …
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…y is representative of the awakening of society to the changing view of the role of woman. A Doll’s House magnificently illustrates the need for and a prediction of this change.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Clurman, Harold. 1977. Ibsen. New York: Macmillan.
Heiberg, Hans. 1967. Ibsen. A Portrait of the Artist. Coral Gables, Florida: University of Miami.
Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House.” Perrine’s Literature. Forth Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1998. pp. 967-1023
Northam, John. 1965. “Ibsen’s Search for the Hero.” Ibsen. A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
Shaw, Bernard. “A Doll’s House Again.” Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1979.
Sturman, Marianne Isben’s Plays I, A Doll’s House Cliffs Notes, 1965.
Thomas, David. Henrik Ibsen. New York: Grove, 1984
freedol Nora’s Struggle For Freedom in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House
Nora’s Struggle For Freedom in A Doll’s House
In many cultures, a woman is expected to assume the role of the submissive, attentive wife. Often, a woman’s role is limited by society to that of wife and mother. Henrik Ibsen, in his play A Doll’s House examines the consequences of the stereotypical roles of women in marriage. Isben allows the reader to follow Nora, the main character, “along her difficult journey to regain her self-esteem and self worth”(Durbach 153).
From the very first lines of the play, we notice the status quo between Torvald and Nora. Torvald is the stereotypically strong, dignified husband while Nora is “little skylark twittering” (Isben 148). Torvald’s continual reference to Nora using bird names parallels Nora’s image of herself. For example, in the first act, Torvald continually refers to Nora as his “little featherbrain,” his “little scatterbrain,” his “squirrel sulking”, and most importantly his “song bird.” These images of weak birds characterize Nora as a weak person. The simple twittering, little birds we see every day are very susceptible to cold weather and to dying and so is Nora. The image of a “little featherbrain” and a “little scatterbrain” indicate stupidity. Nora can’t think for herself because her thoughts are scattered and unorganized.
In contrast, we are led to believe that Torvald is the loving and accommodating husband. He treats Nora like a child. She, not knowing any better at this stage, acts accordingly. For example, as a child forbidden by its mother from eating candy before dinner, Nora hides her “forbidden” macaroons from Torvald. Acting as a parent, Torvald suspects her hiding macaroons from him. He repeatedly asks her if she is sure she didn’t eat any macaroons. Nor…
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…ous struggle to break free of her caged prison. In the beginning of the play, she is first weak and child-like. She then gains some strength to stand up to Mrs. Lind, even going as far as helping her, and to push off Krogstad. “She finally, after realizing Torvald’s true character, breaks free of her cage and does what birds do best – Fly”(Templeton 1636).
Works Cited and Consulted
Durbach, Errol. A Doll’s House: Ibsen’s Myth of Transformation. Boston: Twayne, 1991.
Goodman, Lizbeth In James McFarlane (ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Ibsen. Cambridge University Press. 1994
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House (1879). Trans. Rolf Fjelde. Rpt. in Michael Meyer, ed. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 5th edition. Boston