A Critical Look At Ibsen's "A Doll House"

1190 words - 5 pages

'A Doll's House' is classified under the 'second phase' of HenrikIbsen's career. It was during this period which he made the transitionfrom mythical and historical dramas to plays dealing with social problems.It was the first in a series investigating the tensions of family life.Written during the Victorian era, the controversial play featuring a femaleprotagonist seeking individuality stirred up more controversy than any ofhis other works. In contrast to many dramas of Scandinavia in that timewhich depicted the role of women as the comforter, helper, and supporter ofman, 'A Doll's House' introduced woman as having her own purposes andgoals. The heroine, Nora Helmer, progresses during the course of the playeventually to realize that she must discontinue the role of a doll and seekout her individuality.David Thomas describes the initial image of Nora as that of a dollwife who revels in the thought of luxuries that can now be afforded, whois become with flirtation, and engages in childlike acts of disobedience(259). This inferior role from which Nora progressed is extremelyimportant. Ibsen in his 'A Doll's House' depicts the role of women assubordinate in order to emphasize the need to reform their role in society.Definite characteristics of the women's subordinate role in arelationship are emphasized through Nora's contradicting actions. Herinfatuation with luxuries such as expensive Christmas gifts contradicts herresourcefulness in scrounging and buying cheap clothing; her defiance ofTorvald by eating forbidden Macaroons contradicts the submission of heropinions, including the decision of which dance outfit to wear, to herhusband; and Nora's flirtatious nature contradicts her devotion to herhusband. These occurrences emphasize the facets of a relationship inwhich women play a dependent role: finance, power, and love. Ibsenattracts our attention to these examples to highlight the overallsubordinate role that a woman plays compared to that of her husband. Thetwo sides of Nora contrast each other greatly and accentuate the fact thatshe is lacking in independence of will.The mere fact that Nora's well-intentioned action is consideredillegal reflects woman's subordinate position in society; but it is heractions that provide the insight to this position. It can be suggestedthat women have the power to choose which rules to follow at home, but notin the business world, thus again indicating her subordinateness. Noradoes not at first realize that the rules outside the household apply toher. This is evident in Nora's meeting with Krogstad regarding herborrowed money. In her opinion it was no crime for a woman to doeverything possible to save her husband's life. She also believes that heract will be overlooked because of her desperate situation. She fails tosee that the law does not take into account the motivation behind herforgery. Marianne Sturman submits that this meeting with Krogstad was herfirst confrontation with the reality of a 'lawful society'...

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