Victorian England was marked by rapid industrial growth, resulted in changes in the society, organization and attitude of the people. It is the custom of a society to bring into play, its own rules and values, to satisfy their interests. The literary works of the Victorian Era were pictures of the contemporary society drawn by eminent writers of the time. Henrik Ibsen was one among them. The adverse aspects of the society were unraveled harshly by the author, in the play ‘Doll’s House’. Women were expected to surrender their life for the comfort of the family.
This is well explicated in the play through the life of Nora, the principal female character. A thrash about maintaining their own self can be identified in the characters both male and female. The society of the era seemed to have coherent notions and concepts about masculinity and femininity. Deviation from such preconceived notions was not well accepted. Nora, the ‘doll wife’ of Torvald was confined in the comforts of her own home. She was denied the status of a wife. This was the fate of most of the woman characters of the period that appeared in the current literatures of the time.
They had to struggle for the approval of the society they live in. What Ibsen wanted was to liberate woman from the conventional roles of bearer’s of children and their moral guides. The materialistic mentality of male characters of the time was revealed through Torvald, an unsuccessful barrister who refused to take ‘unsavory cases’. This materialism was exhibited by his attitude towards his wife, that he considered her as an ‘asset’, not as his ‘partner’. The economic and social changes during nineteenth century made the people work for a place in the society based on money. The over powering morality is another major theme of the play.
The heroic action of Nora to save her husband by forgery was a crime in the eyes of the society. Mrs. Linde betrayed her real lover and married another man only for money. All the characters of the play appear to be misleading and unreliable during their walks of life. This instability was true temperament of the period. Ibsen succeeded in gradually bringing out the real personality of the major characters of the play. Thus through a middle class family story, the author depicted the existing society and common life with power and precision. Reference Ibsen, Henrik. (1879). A Doll’s House. Capenhagen: Denmark.