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Nora's Discovery Of Self In Ibsen's A Doll's House

1422 words - 6 pages

Nora's Discovery of Self in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House

    Ibsen's play, "A Doll House," involves a woman who begins the play as a common housewife and through a series of joyous occurrences and catastrophes becomes a self-liberating woman.  Nora Helmer is transformed and decides to abandon her family and home in search of her true self.  She arrives at this point because of several factors.  Her refusal to submit to her husband and her self-realization is brought on by the way she has been taught to act by her husband and her father, and the contradicting demands the situations that she has had to deal with gave her.  Her true devotion to herself is discovered because of the false devotion she felt towards her husband and her role in her family.  In "A Doll House," Henrik Ibsen uses the character of Nora to show that the way in which a woman is treated and her assumed role in society can actually lead to her discovery of her own true humanity.

            Though it seems contradictory, it is actually Torvald Helmer, Nora's husband, who cause Nora to refuse to submit to him.  Torvald holds a very low opinion of Nora's ability to handle things for herself, and allows her almost no responsibility relating to the family outside of the trivial things in the home.  His incessant use of his pet names, "songbird" and "squirrel" for example, trivialize her place in their home.  However, when Torvald becomes ill, it becomes Nora's responsibility to provide for his recovery.  Of course, Torvald, mustn't know anything about Nora borrowing money for his sake, which the situation demands.  So Nora is thrown into a dilemma.  Here her first decision to disobey her husband's wishes, in point of fact for the sake of her love for him, sets her on the path to accomplishing what she thinks is appropriate for her family and for herself. The culmination of this theme occurs when Torvald finally finds out about the borrowed money, and when it threatens his career.  Torvald immediately renounces his love for her, despite the fact that the money was borrowed for him, because of her devotion to him. Upon finding out that the money is no longer an issue, Torvald reneges on his decisions, and is ready to accept Nora back into his home. But Nora will have none of it. She realizes that what is best for herself in not there, in that man's presence.  She refuses to again submit to his decisions, and admits to Torvald that there marriage as it has been is over. (Ibsen 967-1023)  So Nora's inability to play the character that Torvald has written for her in the situations she must endure is what sets her upon the path of refusal to obey her husband's wishes.  Torvald's dissatisfaction with Nora's portrayal of her designated role causes him to renounce his love for her, which in turn allows her to disregard all further stipulations from him.  In effect, it is not Nora's decision to ignore Torvald, but really it is Torvald's own fault.  His unreasonable expectation...

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