Henrik Ibsen A Doll's House Essay

1455 words - 6 pages

How Society is Portrayed in "A Doll's House" In "A Doll's House", Ibsen illustrates how society dictates our attitudes and behaviors. Yet he also subtly gives the reader insight to the fact that we cannot fully blame society for our attitudes and behaviors, as we are a part of society, and can control our own attitudes and behaviors and can change them as Nora decides to do. Most readers and critics of "A Doll's House" assume that the point that Ibsen was trying to get across was that women should have equal rights and be treated equally. However, according to Ibsen's Women, Ibsen had no intention of being a feminist writer in any sense and vehemently denied it up until his death. The goal of Ibsen was to show that people let society manipulate how they live their lives and bar them from finding out who they really are. (Templeton, 110) In "A Doll's House" Nora's situation is not only a fault of her own but that of her father's and of her husbands. However the fault is mainly that of society's. It is not until Nora unconsciously tries to break the rules of society and to take a minute amount of power for herself that disaster ensues in her life and she must realize that she needs to find out the person she really is and strive to become that person.The view of society or rather, that of Nora's peers and herself is that the role of a woman in marriage is to be the role of the submissive, attentive wife. Her role mainly comprises of living for her husband and her children. In this light, at the beginning of the play Nora is characterized to be the common stereotype of the Victorian woman. She is made out to be submissive, sneaky, an "irrational and frivolous narcissist", unintelligent yet beautiful, and "scatterbrained" as illustrated when Torvald repeatedly calls Nora little pet names which are in reality insulting. (Templeton, 112) Women of the Victorian age were not supposed to make more money than their husbands, or to really make money at all if they were established upper class. This is illustrated not only when Nora tried to get money to save Torvald's life but also when she tried to get the money to pay back the loan she took out. She had to borrow money from Krogstad, which was against the law since women cannot borrow money without their father or husband's consent. (Ibsen, 1571) Then when she tried to get jobs to pay back the loan, all she could get were odd jobs like sewing or copying documents. (Ibsen, 1569) When a woman was unmarried or widowed she was left penniless and destitute because she could not support herself and her family. Women were not expected to get well paying jobs. (Ibsen, 1568) When "A Doll's House" hit the English theater in 1889, people were shocked that Ibsen had the gall to suggest that women declare their own independence. He was accused of not only advocating the destruction of the family but also by saying that women refusing to be compliant were refusing to be women. (Templeton, 110) However, said a priori,...

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