Henrik Ibsen, who was born in Norway but made his name internationally, was a painter as well as the one of most famous playwrights during the period of Realism. Ibsen’s plays are well-known by the themes of domestic and political issues and conflict in nineteenth century. Scholars call it “Ibsen’s problems play” (Henrik Ibsen, 650). In addition, in Ibsen’s plays, the general topics that are usually discussed are hypocrisy of the society, restriction of women, and the self-sacrifice.
Under the influence of Industrial Revolution, the conflict between classes and the struggle among workers were becoming more and more intense, especially among women. By responding to French Rvolution, “Liberty” was the key word for nineteenth century (The Nineteenth Century, 509). Henrik Ibsen wrote a famous play called A Doll’s House in 1879. Ibsen illustrates the status and confinement of the women at the time, but his play does not attempt to solve the problems. However, A Doll’s House does express the need and desire for the women to escape from the restriction in the nineteenth-century society.
In the play A Doll’s House, Nora Helmer is the major character as well as a symbol of the majority of house wives in the middle class of the nineteenth century. Also, Nora’s husband, Torvald Helmer, is another symbol represents the majority of men at the time. Through their marriage and relationship, we can clearly see the recreation of the realistic role and characteristic of the suffering women in the nineteenth century.
First of all, The nineteenth-century society was a male dominated society. The most women in nineteenth century were perceived as nonsense and dependent. In the opening act of the play, Torvald talks to Nora, “Is it my little squirrel bustling about?”(Ibsen, Act I, 33). The words such as “squirrel”, “spendthrift” and “skylark” frequently appear on the conversations between Torvald and Nora. Torvald is a good husband, but he treats Nora merely as a pretty doll. Moreover, Torvald is also the money provider of the family, which gives him even more power and pride. However, Nora’s husband does not expect her to be independent or thoughtful. It seems that Torvald even enjoys Nora is being dependent and childish, so he can keep his pride and control over Nora. Due to Nora’s dependency and Torvald’s domination, an equal relationship does not exist in their marriage. Especially on the act III, during their last intense argue, Torvald even says, “You are out of your mind! I won't allow it! I forbid you!” (Ibsen, Act III, 658). This also reflects on the marriage situations in the society of the nineteenth century. Generally, the women were no more than an accessory, or a doll to the men. Husband nearly listened to their wives’ thoughts and had a deep conversation with them.
Second, Even though the women in the nineteenth century were expected to self-sacrifice to their husbands and children, their sacrifices may not be appreciated. They did not receive...