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The Binary Opposition Of Phylogeny Versus Misogyny In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

1510 words - 7 pages

Phylogeny versus misogyny, arguable one of the greatest binary oppositions in a work of literature, is present in Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 Norwegian play A Doll’s House. The title itself suggests a misogynist view, while the work mainly consists of feminist ideology, as Ibsen was a supporter of the female as an independent, rather than a dependent on a male. Nora knew herself that her husband did not fully respect her, and this became a major conflict in the play as Nora progressively became more self-reliant in the play. Ibsen created Nora to give an example for all women, showing that they are more than what their husbands make of them. The misogynistic views in the play can be seen through Nora’s husband Torvald, due to the fact that he believed, as the majority of males did at the time, that women were not equal to them socially. This opposition caused a major conflict between the couple that progressed throughout the stage production.
In A Doll’s House Nora expressed the desire to experience life outside of her husband’s shadow. Henrik Ibsen characterized her as a selfless and kindhearted woman, as she constantly put her family’s needs before her own. There is no doubt that Nora was a victim of subjugation, as her husband’s misogynistic views lead him to believe that she was not as knowledgeable as him when it came to economical decisions, which was a motivation for Nora to express her phylogenic ways. For example, Nora found enjoyment decorating for Christmas; however Torvald found it to be a financial burden and insisted that she no longer continue. Ibsen used symbolism as he employed the Christmas tree as a direct representation of the women during his time period, saying they were “stripped of [their] ornaments” (Ibsen 109), meaning men take away the joy from women because they believed that they were above them. Also, a tree was garnished to make it seem more presentable than normal, which was similar to Nora pretending to be okay with the situation by putting on her ornament of a smile. Ibsen included instances in which women are being devalued to amplify the substantial amount of subjugation on women. The binary opposition is extremely evident here as Torvald and Nora both held contrasting views on the value of opinion.
The theme of power is expressed through the title of A Doll’s House, as when one plays with dolls he or she has complete control of what occurs. The relationship between a person and their doll is a direct act of subjugation, only the doll is not alive and has no choice in the matter. With the binary opposition of phylogeny versus misogyny present in the stage production, a question of the work is who is the one controlling the household. Ibsen had the character of Torvald believe he was in command of what occurred in the house; however he (Ibsen) provided more evidence that Nora was really the one who kept everything together. For example, Nora was speaking with Mrs. Linde that she obtained much needed money without...

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