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Strong Women In Plays: Ibsen’s Nora Essay

Women, even in plays, are portrayed not as decorations rather as characters exhibiting great strength even greater than the surrounding men, as in the case of Nora in Ibsen’s classic, A Doll’s House. The play centered on Nora, a young, superficial wife who throughout the play we saw transform from object as perceived by her husband and society to an empowered woman who took the challenge of standing up for herself.

Whereas Nora started out as a proper wife taking care of the home and the kids through superficial means since Nora is more concerned on beautifying than nurturing – she turned out to be capable of getting out of constricting situations. Nora was a doting wife until Torvald proved to be unworthy of her devotions when he got extremely mad at her upon finding out about the money and forged documents. Then we saw how she wheeled herself around, and suddenly she does not want anything to do with him, and proceeds to leave him, demonstrating her strength.

The story ends with Nora about to leave Torvald, and despite his best efforts to dissuade her, fails. This is a reversal of roles, Nora is significantly transformed, in the sense that although her skills have not in actuality increased, her awareness of herself did. Contrary to what others think of Nora’s character, that she is like a doll who has only now taken control of life, I would like to argue otherwise. Nora is actually powerful — her house, the doll house, the living room in which the entire play takes place — we see that it is her turf. In a nutshell, what Nora wants, Nora gets.

She knows what she wants, and she knows how to get it. And it is not only her who knows this — Krogstad and Mrs. Linde knew that if anybody can make Torvald do anything, it is Nora. So even though Torvald brings in the money and seems to be in charge of the household as he is the one who sets up the rules, he is actually under Nora’s control. She knows how to manipulate him. She knows that the most important thing to Torvald is his work — his social position because his identity is anchored onto it. That is why she does not want him to find out about her forging the documents because she knew it will destroy him and turn him against her.

And yet, she did it anyway. She might reason that she forged the signature out of her love for him, but the fact remains that by doing so, she held in her hands a powerful weapon against her husband. Nora was at the center of story in the midst of a patriarchal society, and yet she was the one who bravely took charge of her life, deciding what to do next, even defying the expected response and responsibility as a mother. Her husband Torvald loved Nora conditionally and when she realized that she took on her responsibility to herself before her husband and children even if society will certainly look down on her.

Nora may be scheming, may be indulgent, but for all her flaws unlike the male characters she struggles and ultimately triumphs as she makes a decision for herself, exhibiting her strength. This was further pushed when Torvald asked her to stay and Dr. Rank confessed his love for her, yet Nora maintained that she wanted to fulfill her responsibility to herself first. Nora may have been a doll, a woman in a man’s world, but at the end of the play this has certainly changed and she was became captain of her destiny.

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