Is “A Doll’s House” simply another text in which the composer questions the ideals of his society? Or is it advocating the rights of women as individuals, perhaps a pioneer in feminist literature? One may argue that “A Doll’s House” is nothing more than a product of Henrik Ibsen’s examination of his contemporary society’s values and morals, specifically those of the bourgeois class. But Ibsen does more than simply reflect upon these values and morals, and rather uses the setting of a middleclass household for his social commentary, exploring the moral conflict within his characters and the dangers of deception.
Ibsen’s theatre background has shaped “A Doll’s House” into a realistic prose drama, which ensured that his idea’s and themes could be easily translated to engage a wider audience.
As “A Doll’s House” is a realistic drama each of Ibsen’s character encapsulate a role in his society. Nora as the main protagonist is branded by others as “an extravagant little thing”, and represents what was typical of a housewife. The social construct of a mother’s role restricts her behaviour and actions as a woman and individual. Not only is Nora the subservient woman but her relationship with her husband, Torvald, is reminiscent to that of a father and his “little girl”, reflecting the idea that ownership of a woman is acquired by her husband from her father.
Torvald is the personification of masculine authority of Ibsen’s context. He is a husband who is “proud to be a man”; and hence constantly patronizes Nora with a playful manner calling her “feather brain”, implying that as a feminine figure she is inferior to him. Although Nora is constantly chided as if she were a child, an audience with Ibsen’s context would see Torvald’s treatment of Nora as flattering and desirable.
From a modern perspective, Nora’s portrayal as a “dolly” who “existed to perform” at the whims of her husband, attracts dire undertones of sexual abuse and domestic violence, which are considered taboo in modern society. The very idea of sexual abuse within marriage would have actually been quite unthinkable during Ibsen’s time, considering a wife was obligated to please her husband. Not only is