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Portrayal Of Sexism In Ibsen's The Doll's House

1440 words - 6 pages

English A1 Oral Presentation Transcript Portrayal of Sexism in Henrik Ibsen’s ‘The Doll’s House’ Ibsen was a pioneer of the realistic social drama. Unlike playwrights who came before him, he was very concerned with portraying realistic social settings and illustrating a conflict resulting from social pressures and mores. Ibsen also endeavors to show the blatant sexism rampant in the country at the time. This is shown In part by the unequal nature of Torvald and Nora’s marriage.
At first glance, one might think that the Helmers have a successful marriage—but only at a superficial level. Once we delve beyond the comfort of middle-class security, we see that the foundation of the marriage is built on the utter subservience of the woman. Additionally, Nora’s actions show that—with good reason—she does not truly respect her husband’s value system. Her day is filled with constant acts of subterfuge—some minor, like sneaking macaroons, and some of the utmost importance, like paying back a loan that saved her husband’s life. No matter the level, deceit is a constant in the relationship. This outwardly typical, happy marriage is anything but. In fact, the interactions between husband and wife serve a specific purpose: they illustrate the banality of the discourse between the two. Torvald does not address his wife regarding any subject of substance. Instead, he bestows her with pet names that often begin with the personal pronoun “my” and often include the diminutive “little”: “Is that my little lark?” In this respect, Torvald may think he is flattering his wife. However, he is actually reducing her to a cute, harmless pet—one that is clearly owned. And like a pet, Nora is expected to obey her owner/husband and his petty tyrannical rules: she is forbidden from eating macaroons and must do so on the sly—which she clearly resents. Additionally, when Torvald addresses Nora, he belittles her by constantly bringing up her lack of responsibility with money. Depending on the translation, Nora is “spendthrift,” “prodigal,” and “little moneybags.” All of these terms, spoken affectionately, are passively aggressive. A Doll's House has few stage directions indicating tone of voice, so there is a great deal of freedom in the manner in which the actor can play the part Torvald. He can be played like a patriarchal tyrant or a fatuous, passive-aggressive sexist. The second option is, perhaps, the better choice; Torvald’s utter obliviousness to his own oppressive behavior is a driving force in the play. He berates his wife for knowing nothing about worldly matters but, ultimately, is himself unaware of the measures she has taken to save his life. Torvald is so self-centered that he continues to see his wife how he wants her to be or how she fails to be his ideal woman; he never sees the actual woman who she is. Ibsen’s use of the Christmas holiday as a backdrop to the unfolding drama adds a sense of irony to the play; things are not as they seem. Christmas was an...

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