Feminist Criticism In A Doll House By Henrik Ibsen St. Marcellinus Eng 4 Un 01 Essay

1333 words - 6 pages

Women have been suffering the oppressions of a patriarchal system for many years throughout history. It is only in recent years that it is being brought to light. Many literature pieces touch upon the various methods women are suppressed by their spouses, family and even the government. One of the more notable pieces of literature to showcase this is A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen shows the classification of women through the character Torvald Helmer. Helmer uses many nicknames for his wife Nora, however, the nicknames he chooses to call her demeans her as a human, prizes her as Helmer’s property and belittles her presence to simply represent beauty.

Firstly, Nora is not perceived to be a human being by her husband. Instead, she is constantly compared and referred to an animal. This is evident throughout Helmer’s use of nicknames. The first evidence of this is shown through the following quote.
Helmer: Is that my squirrel rummaging around?
Nora: Yes!
Helmer: When did my squirrel get in?
Nora: Just now. Do come in, Torvald, and see what I’ve bought (Ibsen 44).

This quote is from the conversation Helmer and Nora have when he comes home from work. He asks out loud if his wife is home, and she responds to him. However, when asking if his wife is home, he refers to his wife as a squirrel. He also refers to her actions inside the house as rummaging. The word rummaging mainly applies to animals, not humans. Rummaging involves scattering around and making unwanted noise, much like an animal. However, Nora does not object or feel offended, she encourages it by responding directly to her husband’s nickname for her. This indicates that this isn’t the first time that this has occurred and Nora is quite used to and perhaps even satisfied with the language her husband uses. Another piece of evidence relevant to this point is the following quote. “Ah, is my stubborn little creature calling for a lifeguard?” (Ibsen 69). This quote takes place after Nora asks Helmer for help in choosing a costume for the party. Helmer responds to her by calling Nora a creature. A creature is traditionally seen as something undesirable and not human-like. This further displays the inferiority placed on Nora, and how she isn’t a human being, but a creature that needs saving from a man. Overall, Nora is an animal in the eyes of Helmer, inferior to humans.
Secondly, Nora is classified as a possession that ultimately belongs to Helmer. This is shown throughout the play, however, one quote stands out most. “Didn’t you say that no one had been here? My little songbird must never do that again. A songbird needs a clean beak to warble with. No false notes. That’s the way it should be, isn’t it? Yes, I’m sure of it…” (Ibsen 68). This quote takes place after Helmer comes home and sees Krogstad leave his house. Nora lies about someone being at their house and Helmer tells her not to lie ever again. Although Nora is referred to as an animal instead of a human being, the...

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