Henrik Ibsen published A Doll House in 1879, which was a time period of intense debate over women’s rights. Ibsen believed in the equality of people; consequently, the play displays the unjust inequality between men and women during the 19th century. Women were expected to fulfill the roles of a daughter, wife, and mother. However, to conform to the standards of the time women would repeatedly sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of men (Shahbaz). Nora attempted to fulfill the roles society expected of her, but she could not. Henrik Ibsen demonstrated how a woman has a duty to herself first by showing the negative effects of restricting women to the subservient roles of a daughter, wife, and mother in A Doll House.
Topic Sentence! During the action of the play, Nora’s father is dead, but Nora mentions him on a few occasions. While talking to Krogstad, Nora reveals she did not go to her father for a signature because he was sick when she was procuring the note. Furthermore, ...view middle of the document...
When Torvald shows he will not sacrifice himself for her, Nora has an epiphany. In the play after Torvald says “No more playacting. You stay right here and give me a reckoning. You understand what you’ve done? Answer! You understand?” Nora’s face hardens and she answers with “Yes. I’m beginning to understand everything now” (Mays 1232). She discovers she needs to know herself before she sacrifices her opinions and cares for others. After her revelation, Nora leaves her husband to become her own person, and she expresses they can only be together if the marriage is equal, but that is implausible. Nora was a subservient wife to her husband for eight years, but she could not continue with that way of life because it restricted her freedom and growth as a human being.
The ending of A Doll House is controversial even for today’s generation because Nora abandons her children, and this action goes against the teachings of a woman being foremost a mother. The traditional role of the mother is to provide education, love, and understanding. Nora could provide none of these things because she relied too heavily on the men in her life. Nora would only play with her children and dress them up; therefore, she was repeating the harmful cycle of treating others as a doll instead of a person with his or her own opinions and feelings. Nora could not care for her children without first caring for herself, and she could not teach them anything without first learning herself.
Nora addresses her own lack of identity and the lack of identity she is giving her children when she says “I’ve been your doll wife here, just as at home I was Papa’s doll-child. And in turn the children have been my dolls” (Mays 1235). In the 19th century, the rights of women were questioned, and A Doll House shows how the sacrificial roles of women were not suitable for everyone. Nora attempted to fulfill the customary roles, but realized after 8 years of being unsuccessful she needed to be independent first. Michael Meyer believes the theme of the play is the “need of every individual to find out the kind of person he or she really is and to strive to become that person” (Shahbaz). Nora required freedom to formulate her own opinions on life, children, and religion.