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“A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen Essay

After reading “A Dolls House” by Henrik Ibsen, I realized that just like life, Noras overt symptoms were simply a byproduct of a problem that lies much deeper than simple financial spontaneity. Torvald, a patronizing, and solely appearance-driven man sets up the relationship for failure from the beginning. The fact that he treats Nora like a child and almost as a toy is not only demeaning to anyone, but it is actually awful that any man could treat a woman that way. I do not believe that Nora is the one to blame for her problems with spending money. However, it is unfortunate that Nora forges a loan paper because she is looking for fulfillment through money. Obviously there is a void in the relationship, true love. Love is something that Torvald should have been giving Nora all along, instead he demeans her. Therefore, Nora looks to money to provide her the happiness and love that should be given to her by her husband.

This play appealed to me because I think it is wonderful that Ibsen spoke out so strongly in this play for the support of womens rights. The theme of this play is the unjust sacrificial role of women. In the Victorian era, the man held the majority of power in a relationship, and was deemed with the more important role in society. Women, on the other hand, were expected to be acquiescent and dependent on men in all areas of their lives. I was shocked that women were not legally allowed to sign a legal document, such a personal loan without a man’s signature. It must have been a huge issue for some strong willed women to fall into the position of full dependence on a man. I believe that Nora was one of these strong willed women.

In Nora’s case Torvald was a kind man, however it seemed to me that he was always belittling her with subtle, gentle verbal abuse that Nora absorbed like a sponge. Her problem, along with the subtle, degrading comments, was that she was cooped up in such an ordinary life and stuck with a man that did not effectively show his love for her. This caused Nora to fall into the stereotypical role of the dependent woman. However, that is not who she truly was. Nora tolerated these actions as long as there was security for her and her children. Women of this era married mainly for security rather than love. If there was love in a marriage it was a by product of chance and a blessing, not the usual state of affairs between men and women.

When Nora finally realizes that Torvald was not a man of honor the need for security and dependence was broken. Nora prays for a “miracle of miracles” hoping that Torvald will step up and save her from dishonor for the illegal loan she signed for. She prayed that Torvald would take the blame and leave her blameless and spotless. Somehow in all of this mess, we see Nora as an incredibly respectable woman. She only wants Torvald to make the gesture so she can respect and look up to him, to see that he is a man of honor and strength. Instead, she sees that he is a hypocrite and with that the break in their one-sided marriage is complete.

Noras subtle gestures of rebellion throughout the play show that a decision is brewing in the back of her mind, and that she is ready for some sort of change. She realizes that who she really is, is a mystery to her. After realizing this, she was determined to solve it. Her newfound determination fueled her to embark on the journey to find out who the women inside of her really was. She knew to only way to do it would be to leave her “doll house” and go out in the real world and find out who Nora really is.

By Nora slamming the door behind her, she closed the door on her old life. She now has the chance to discover who she really is without actually being someones property. The decision to leave her husband and children was shocking, but foreshadowed. She had been subtly rebelling against Torvalds wishes constantly. She eats the macaroons when Torvald says No. This was just one of the many instances where Nora showed that she was getting sick of being told what to do by her master. Nora was not even truly raising her children, she hired Anne Marie for that. Nora simply entertained the children in a superficial relationship. She no longer respected Torvald, and needed a fresh start on a new life; so she slams the door. Finally, the real Nora has a chance to come alive.

Sources Used:

“Stages of Drama” By Klaus, Gilbert, and Field Jr. 5th Edition, 2003. Bedford/St. Martin’s.

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