A Double Standard in “A Doll’s House” Essay
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In today’s society, all are taught the social structure that is meant to be followed and not changed; yet, are also taught to stand up for something if enough belief is put into it- a double standard by most accounts. Such standards exist in the play A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen. Set in the time where women’s equality was a joke and with an ending too shocking for the German public, this play brought into light the “two kinds of spiritual law one in man one in women” (Rosefeldt) this view outlines the distinct standards held for each gender that can be seen throughout different works of literature and even in today’s society.
Rosefeldt emphasizes Ibsen’s view that this world is “exclusively a male society…with prosecutors and judges who judge women’s behavior from the male standpoint.” (Rosefeldt) From this, it can be agreed that such a standard exists.
Looking back on literature, many unique examples can be found. In the epic, The Odyssey, Odysseus’s wife, Penelope, is remains faithful to her husband, of which has been gone for twenty years. Just in the act of being faithful lends to the fact that she was automatically expected to by her peers. No matter how much suffering, she was still to go with the social norm and wait. In stark contrast, Odysseus was presented with many chances of infidelity (the Sirens & Calypso) as the gods pressed obstacles in the way of his journey home. Despite the gods’ attempts, Odysseus’s own morals prevented the expected to occur. From this view, the story directly contradicts itself in regards to gender standards. Between the non-chalant attitude towards Odysseus if he were to cheat and the “Penelope must always stay faithful under and circumstance” perspective, it is implied that women are not at the same liberties as men when put in the same situation.
In the play itself, the double standards set between Nora and her overly-dominant husband, Torvald, can be clearly seen. Many times throughout the play, Nora is referred to as a bird or squirrel as Torvald is always called by his name, implying that their relationship is “an overly-close bond” (Rosefeldt) – with Torvald in charge. As Nora struggles with her secret transaction throughout the play, she deeply ponders leaving Torvald and her family or even killing herself. Her deep consideration bluntly differs Torvald’s instantaneous decision to get rid of her as soon as he found out about her under-the-table loan.
Greatly improved from the times this play was written, women aren’t property and most have their own jobs and careers. Even with their jobs though, women are still expected to be the homemaker. Throughout history, women have always been seen as the child-bearing counterparts to their bread-winning husbands-just look at any classic American sitcom. Although, much in those ways have changed in the past few decades, modern sports still hold the standard to a degree. Cheerleading, previously thought to be an exclusively girl sport, is increasingly growing popularity as a unisex sport. On the contrary, seldom is a girl seen playing football; rather rare to see a girl playing on a team other than in a pee-wee league or a backyard family game.
In the end, whether agreed or not, there is, in fact, a double standard between men and women- though some subtle, these age-old and well-known lines aren’t and probably won’t be getting crossed anytime soon. Either way you look at it, one simple question sums it perfectly; would there be a story if it were Torvald who had borrowed the money?