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Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

Nora is a captivating character in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. She swings between extremes: she is either very happy or immensely depressed, prosperous or completely desperate, wise or naive, impotent or purposeful. You can understand this range in Nora, because she staggers between the person she pretends to be and the one she someday hopes to become. Throughout the play, Nora is portrayed as subordinate to her male counterpart, Torvald. As most other men during this time, Torvald believed that women were not capable of making difficult decisions, or thinking for themselves.

As the play progresses, Nora faces a life changing decision to abandon her duty as a wife and mother to find her own individuality. Even though Torvald is responsible for partial deterioration in their marriage, it is Nora’s feministic beliefs, passion for life, thoughtlessness, and spontaneity that stimulate her ultimate plan to break away and shatter all that remained pleasant in Torvald’s “perfect little dollhouse”. Nora, the protagonist, has been treated as a “play thing” by her father and then her husband, Torvald. She is thought to be fragile and incapable of resolving any serious problems.

The pet names like “lark”, “squirrel”, and “songbird” (pg. 27) further diminish her status. He also neglected to give significance to her job as a homemaker. Yet her compassion and intelligence must be masked by her childish and supplicating behavior due to the expectations of her society. At the beginning of the play, Nora is still a child in many ways, listening at doors and guiltily eating forbidden sweets (macaroons) behind her husband’s back. She has gone straight from her father’s house to her husband’s, bringing along her nursemaid to emphasize the fact that she’s never been on her own. She’s also never gained a sense of self.

She’s always accepted her father’s and her husband’s opinions. And she’s aware that Torvald would have no use for a wife who was his equal. So she would act like a child and manipulate Torvald by pouting or by performing for him. She uses her own being as a lure for the things she wants in life. Her drive to reach her goals are far more powerful than her desire to care for the family, and life, that she created. When her secret is revealed, the reality of her status in their marriage awakens her.

Although she may suspect that Torvald is a weak, petty man, she clings to the illusion that he’s strong, that he’ll “advise and protect her” (pg. ) But at the moment of truth, he abandons her out of disgust over her ablilty to keep something that important from him for so long. You can hear his resentment towards Nora when he exclaims,”you are ill, Nora” (pg. 63). She is shocked into reality and sees what a masquerade their relationship has been. She becomes aware that her father and her husband have seen her as a doll to be played with, a figure without opinion or will of her own. She also realizes that she is treating her children the same way. Her whole life has been based on illusion rather than reality.

The believability of the play hinges on your accepting Nora’s sudden self-awareness. Perceiving the situation differs as she might feel that she has been a child so long she couldn’t possibly grow up that quickly. Or she might feel that she is already quite wise without realizing it, and that what happens is credible. A common reaction would be one of sadness for Torvald’s loss. He’s a straight-laced, proper man, who has worked his whole life to support her and their family. At first, he seems genuinely in love with Nora, even if he does tend to nag and preach a bit.

But as the play progresses, you discover more disturbing parts of his character. Like anyone who doubts his own power, Torvald tries to frequently prove it. He keeps firm authority over who comes to his study and whom he converses with at work, and over everything affecting Nora’s life at all. He even holds the only key to their mailbox. As you can Imagine this is just another thing that drives Nora crazy, especially right before her secret about the loan is almost revealed. During the third act, you see Torvald’s need for dominance increase. His fantasies always have Nora in a submissive role.

He is happiest when treating her as a father would a child. This gives an incestuous tinge to their relationship, which Nora comes to realize and abhor at the end of the play. His every touch begins to make her nauseous and much resentment begins to form. She hates the middle-class mold her family has become and yearns for a better life, and better love. She was sick of living in a fantasy world filled with lies, false hopes, and the scandalous consumption of her most favorite sweet. He became odious enough at the end for her to break all ties and leave immediately upon discovering his true self.

She loved him in her own sense. She loved him for loving her. But she didn’t love her life and did the only thing she felt she could to change it. Torvald also represents a “type” of thought and behavior that contrasts with Nora in several effective ways. He represents middle-class society and its rules, while Nora represents the original and peculiar. He stands for the world of men and “logical male thinking,” while Nora’s thinking is more intuitive and sensitive. They ultimately appeared to be too different and conflicting to share the same life.

For example, Nora can’t really see how it is wrong to forge a name in order to save a life, but Torvald would rather die than break the law or borrow money. This difference in thinking is what traps Nora. It is obvious that Nora’s duty to know herself is more important than her female, wife and mother role in life. In the end, Torvald was defeated by Nora’s need to be free and away from all her aggravations. Certainly at the play’s start, Torvald appears to be in command, contrasting Nora’s weakness. But by the end of Act Three their roles have been reversed: he is the weak one, begging for another chance, and Nora has found strength.

This notion suggested that ideas of male supremacy and middle-class respectability were changing. More female were feeling liberated enough to escape their boundaries and move on to more fulfilling lives. Your greatest duty is to understand yourself. At the beginning of the play, Nora doesn’t realize she has a self. She’s playing a role. The purpose of her life is to please Torvald or her father, and to raise her children. But by the end of Act Three their roles have been reversed: he is the weak one, begging for another chance, and Nora has found strength.

I have it in me to become another man” (pg. 70), he exclaims as he pleads for another chance. She replies with thoughtlessness to anyone’s feelings but her own by telling him that neither he nor their children were allowed to write to her. By the end of the play, she discovers that her “most sacred duty”(pg. 68), is to herself. She leaves to find out who she is and how she can become gratified with her life. The sound of the door shutting as Nora leaves Torvald (pg. 72) exemplifies the end of her role as his beloved “doll” wife.

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Home » A doll's house » Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

Ibsens A Doll’s House

The events begin to succeed each other more and more rapidly and the circle begins to spin around her. We find that, for saving her husbands life, Nora has committed forgery and Krogstad is ready to use this information in order achieve his goals : ()if I produce this document in court, youll be condemned. (791) This element gives us a hint of women condition in a deeply- rooted man thought society . In addition, Dr. Rank, who had a lethal disease, confesses his love for her : You know now that Im at your service, body and soul. 802) All these events make the circle tighten and spin faster around Nora, who can hardly resist to this pressure and seeks the relief in wildly dancing the tarantella, a dance wich she transforms into a life and death one.

This dance can also be viewed as an one of the key element that permits us to say that shes passing from a state of passive victim to a n early state of active agent : Nora dances more and more widly. Helmer stands by the stove giving her repeated directions as she dances ; she does not seem to hear them. (808) All the other charactersreactions, words and attitudes form the chain wich nbearably surrounds Nora and wich she will finally break, liberating herself from the lie she has been living in for many years-she firmly tells Helmer her decision : I cant stay here with you any longer (… ). Im leaving here at once. (821) In addition to this intimate inter-independence between Nora and the other four important characters (viewed as a whole), is the complexity of Helmers wife as a dramatic personage.

Compared to the others, Nora is the most round character, one who we see evolving, in contrast with Helmer or Dr. Rank. More precisely, we discover two forms of evolution of this personage : 1. n external one, produced in the readers mind, as he discovers the purpose of her always asking money to the husband and having a toy attitude with him ; 2. and the second evolution, more profound, wich implies the inner transformation of the character, tired of representing someones toy and desiring independence.

The beginning of the play presents us a squirrel-like(775)woman, always wanting to please her husband in order to get money from him. She voluntarily accepts Helmer comparing her with a little animal and even seems to identify with this image : Ah, if you only knew how many expenses the likes us sky-larks and quirrels have, Torvald(777). Nora appears completely submitted to her husband, ready to accept whatever he would say or do : I would never dream of doing anything you didnt want me to. (777) in order to satisfy her ( apparent) only preoccupation : You could always give me money, Torvald. 776) The fog and confusion wich surrounded her and her attitude begin gradually to disappear as we find out that she had borrowed money to save Helmers life and she saves almost every penny her husband gives her in order topay the debt off.

This stage of Noras external evolution enables us to see a woman who deeply loves her usband, but who is not strong enough to fight against his prejudices : Torvald is a man with a great deal of pride- it would be terribly embarrassing and humiliating for him if he thought he owed anything to me. 782) Moreover, she prefers fancying about a rich man who would give her the money she needs( a psychological escape from the constraints she lives in) than facing her husband. The two evolutions begin to coincide from the moment when Krogstad threatens Nora with telling Helmer that she has committed forgery. We feel that something begins to change when contradictory feelings invade her- love for the children, for the usband, and the desire to commit suicide : () never see the children again()Oh, that black icy water.

Oh, that bottomless ! (817) On the other hand, she would do almost anything in order to regain her old lifestyle(that of a dollwho passed from the fathers hands into that of the husbands). The transformation seems to end with the firm decision to throw herself into the water after Helmer would have found out the hidden truth : Now you must read your letters, Torvald. (816) But it willnot come to an end until Nora really discovers her husband : Miserable woman what is this you have done ? ()Do you understand what you have done ? 17) contrasting with his reaction after finding that Krogstad has sent them back the IOU : Helmer :I am saved ! Nora, I am saved ! Nora : And me ? Helmer : You too, of course . (818) From this moment, we assist to an incredible change from the submitted wife to the firm, decided Nora, who has the courage to leave her husband and children in quest of independence. Having dealt with the analyze of Nora and Mrs Lindes attitudes and their relations with the other personages, we now turn to the authors relationwith his main characters :women.

Being a drama, A Dolls House has only the diialogues and the characters actions to eveal their emotions to the reader. Therefore Ibsen places Nora for the most part of the play in the center of the action ( she appears in all scenes except for the discussion between Krogstad and Mrs Linde) and eliminates any dialogue or event that would not have conributed to her evolution from passive vistim to active agent of her life, and would not have been an argument for his thesis.

We have the conviction that Nora not only represents a forrm of protest against womens very limited rights in the 19th Century : Helmer : But nobody sacrifies his honor for the one she loves Nora : Hundreds and thousands of women have. (823), ut also becomes an instrument in Ibsens hands, an instrument for pleading in favor of personal freedom and individuals liberty to choose their destiny in becoming a social responsible agent.

The materialization of this idea, in terms of liberation of the main character ( women), comes naturally after we have discovered the constraints surrounding Nora, especially coming from her husband I wouldnt find a woman doubly attractive for being so obviously helpless. () Its as though it made her his property in a double sense : he has, as it were, given her a new life, and she becomes in a way both his wife and at tha same time his child. (823)

For having demonstrated that Women in Ibsens A Dolls House were very consistent and complex characters of the play and that they become the weapon that Ibsen uses for expressing his convictions, I clearly hope having achieved the goal of this paper. That is to point out that Nora and Mrs Linde both experienced an evolution from passive victims in a life devoid of any rights for them to active agents in a life somewhat difficult for the adversities that a woman, who wants to claim her rights to live her life as she think best, has to face . Ibsens A Dolls House is in some extent an hymn for sexual equality that Society should one day achieve.

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Home » A doll's house » Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

In reading Ibsen’s A Doll’s House today, one may find it hard to imagine how daring it seemed at the time it was written one hundred years ago. Its theme, the emancipation of a woman, makes it In Act I, there are many clues that hint at the kind of marriage Nora and Torvald have. It seems that Nora is a doll controlled by Torvald. She relies on him for everything, from movements to thoughts, much like a puppet who is dependent on its puppet master for all of its actions. The most obvious example of Torvald’s physical control over Nora is his reteaching her the tarantella.

Nora pretends that she needs Torvald to teach her every move in order to relearn the dance. The reader knows this is an act, and it shows her submissiveness to Torvald. After he teaches her the dance, he proclaims “When I saw you turn and sway in the tarantella-my blood was pounding till I couldn’t stand it”(1009), showing how he is more interested in Nora physically than emotionally. When Nora responds by saying “Go away, Torvald! Leave me alone. I don’t want all this”(1009), Torvald asks “Aren’t I your husband? “(1009). By saying this, he is implying that one of

Nora’s duties as his wife is to physically pleasure him at his command. Torvald also does not trust Nora with money, which exemplifies Torvald’s treating Nora as a child. On the rare occasion when Torvald gives Nora some money, he is concerned that she will waste it on candy and pastry; in modern times, this would be comparable to Macauly Culkin being given money, then buying things that “would rot his mind and his body” in the movie Home Alone. Nora’s duties, in general, are restricted to caring for the children, doing housework, and working on her needlepoint.

A problem with her esponsibilities is that her most important obligation is to please Torvald, making her role similar to that of a slave. Many of Ibsen’s works are problem plays in which he leaves the conclusion up to the reader. The problem in A Doll’s House lies not only with Torvald, but with the entire Victorian society. Females were confined in every way imaginable. When Torvald does not immediately offer to help Nora after Krogstad threatens to expose her, Nora realizes that there is a problem.

By waiting until after he discovers that his social status will suffer no harm, Torvald reveals his true feelings which put ppearance, both social and physical, ahead of the wife whom he says he loves. This revelation is what prompts Nora to walk out on Torvald. When Torvald tries to reconcile with Nora, she explains to him how she had been treated like a child all her life; her father had treated her much the same way Torvald does. Both male superiority figures not only denied her the right to think and act the way she wished, but limited her happiness.

Nora describes her feelings as “always merry, never happy. When Nora finally slams the door and leaves, she is not only slamming it on Torvald, but also on everything lse that has happened in her past which curtailed her growth into a mature woman. In today’s society, many women are in a situation similar to Nora’s. Although many people have accepted women as being equal, there are still people in modern America who are doing their best to suppress the feminist revolution. People ranging from conservative radio-show hosts who complain about “flaming femi-nazis,” to women who use their “feminine charm” to accomplish what they want are what is holding the female gender back.

Both of these mindsets are expressed in A Doll’s House. Torvald is an example of today’s stereotypical man, who is only interested in his appearance and the amount of control he has over a person, and does not care about the feelings of others. Nora, on the other hand, is a typical example of the woman who plays to a man’s desires. She makes Torvald think he is much smarter and stronger than he actually is. However, when Nora slams the door, and Torvald is no longer exposed to her manipulative nature, he realizes what true love and equality are, and that they cannot be achieved with people like Nora and himself together.

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