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Portrayal Of Gender Roles In The 19th Century In Ibsen's A Doll's House

968 words - 4 pages

“A Doll’s House” gives the reader a firsthand view at how gender roles affected the characters actions and interactions throughout the play. The play helps to portray the different struggles women faced during the 19th century with gender roles, and how the roles affected their relationships with men as well as society. It also helps to show the luxury of being a male during this time and how their higher status socially over women affected their relationships with woman and others during this time period.
Torvald Helmer starts off the story with a new job as a bank manager. He has a wife Nora who does not have a job in the workforce since that was the man's role. Torvald even calls Nora pet names like "my sweet little lark" and "my squirrel”. These nicknames may seem to be harmless and cute, but in reality the names actually show how little he thinks of her and how he’s the one harnessing the power in the relationship. When Torvald says "my little squirrel" he is suggesting that he in fact owns Nora and that she is second-rate to him, since she is seen as little and as a squirrel which are usually frightened, non-threatening creatures. Torvald sees women as both child-like, helpless creatures detached from reality and who are responsible for taking care of the chores and children while staying inside the house.
Gender roles are also seen in the rules Torvald for Nora to follow. Torvald is the only one in the family who works and provide for his family who needs to survive in their lifestyle. Because of this, Nora must always go and ask for money from Torvald hoping for his acceptance of her using his income. Nora also had no possessions to her name because when a woman got married, all her possessions were considered under the control of her new husband. Torvald had complete control over Nora's economic abilities and needs. This showed how the man of the house had to be in charge and the woman was inferior, needing to beg and ask for permission for anything needed from under his control. Nora is described as a "spendthrift," meaning that she spends money recklessly or wastefully while Torvald’s spending habits is never mentioned. This could be because most financial or house hold problems ended up being blamed on the wife of the household. For example "Almost anyone who turns bad as a youth has had a compulsive liar for a mother”. Women were constantly blamed for the wrongs and problems from their children as well as with society.
During the time period when this play was written, a husband controlling his wife and demanding certain behavior from for her was not uncommon. One incident of Torvald's control was when Nora comes home from Christmas shopping. Torvald knows how much...

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