After reading “A Dolls House” by Henrik Ibsen, I felt that I had a better grasp of the relationship between men and women in the Victorian era. The man was all- powerful in this time; women were well in the background, subservient and dependent on men in all areas of her life. It was surprising to me that women were not allowed to sign legal documents, such a personal loan without a man’s signature. Total dependency had to be a tough pill to swallow for strong willed women. I am sure that many clever and cunning women were able to manipulate the men in their lives, letting the man believe that they were in full control of the relationship.
However the majority of women who were not able to assert themselves as forcefully as I am sure they wished. Men were able to run the household through kind or cruel intentions. 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. 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 is not a man of honor the need for security and dependence is broken. Nora prays for a “miracle of miracles” hoping that Torvald will come to her rescue and be her Knight on a white horse 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. Even though she states at the same time that she would not let him take the blame for her actions, she wished that he would place his reputation and the line for hers.
In this Nora is a remarkable 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. But she sees that he is a hypocrite and with that the break in their one-sided marriage is complete. She realizes that she does not know who she is but she is determined to take the journey and find out what kind of women she is. She must leave her “doll house” and go out in the real world and find out what she is made of.
I feel that Nora will find that she is a better person than most people that she knows in her sheltered and pampered life. The decision to leave her husband and children was shocking in her day and how the people must have gossiped. Wagging their fingers at her saying “For shamed, for shamed.” Nora was not even truly raising her children; she had Anne Marie for that task. Nora simply entertained the children in a superficial relationship. She no longer respected Torvald; she did not even know who she was. She had to leave to find Nora, the Nora that never was, so she had to go.