A Dolls House

A Doll’s House Becoming Independent Throughout A Dolls House, Henrik Ibsen illustrates through an intriguing story how a once infantile-like woman gains independence and a life of her own. Ibsen creates a naturalistic drama that demonstrates how on the outside Nora and Torvald seam to have it all, but in reality their life together is empty. Instead of meaningful discussions, Torvald uses degrading pet names and meaningless talk to relate to Nora. Continuing to treat Nora like a pampered yet unimportant pet, Torvald thoroughly demonstrates how men of his era treat women as insignificant items to be possessed and shown off. While the Helmer household may have the appearance of being sociably acceptable, the marriage of Torvald and Nora was falling apart because of the lack of identity, love, and communication. Nora Helmer was a delicate character and she relied on Torvald for her identity. This dependence that she had kept her from having her own personality.

Yet when it is discovered that Nora only plays the part of the good typical housewife who stays at home to please her husband, it is then understandable that she is living not for herself but to please others. From early childhood Nora has always held the opinions of either her father or Torvald, hoping to please them. This mentality makes her act infantile, showing that she has no ambitions of her own. Because she had been pampered all of her life, first by her father and now by Torvald, Nora would only have to make a cute animal sound to get what she wanted from Torvald, If your little squirrel were to ask you for something very, very, prettily (Ibsen 34) she said. Through their everyday conversation, Nora and Torvald reveal that they have a relationship full of meaningless talk and games.

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Is that my little squirrel bustling about? (2), Torvald questions Nora. Yes! (2) She answers, running up to Torvald like a puppy. Because of her whimsical attitude, Torvald had assumed that Nora was always happy and carefree, so what reason would there be for meaningful conversation? Their relationship consisted of nothing truly real. Everything was fun and games and for show. Torvald scolded Nora like he would a child, Hasnt Mrs.

Sweet Tooth been breaking rules today in town (4). Then, Nora would respond as a young child would facing punishment, I should not think of going against your wishes (4). This type of communications cannot be healthy in any relationship, and greatly hindered the relationship between the two. Finally, when Nora realized that they needed to seriously converse the timing was too late, We have been married eight years now. Does this not occur to you that this is the first time that we two, you and I, husband and wife, have had a serious conversation? (66) The Helmers didnt communicate feeling through their relationship nor did they communicate love. Torvald did give Nora gifts of money but he did not give her the respect and devotion she, as well as any wife, needs.

Torvald did love the idea of having a wife, but he did not sincerely love Nora. Yet Nora did believe that he loved her, and showed through her feelings of expectance of Torvald to sacrifice himself, when she would be accused of her crime. Yet, when she discovered that Torvald really didnt love her she stated, You have never love me. You have only thought it to be pleasant to be in love with me (66). She then knew that he only viewed her as a problem, and that her marriage was meaningless. You have destroyed all of my happiness.

You have ruined all my future. It is horribleI must sink to such miserable depths because of a thoughtless woman! (62). The ending of Nora and Torvalds marriage was inevitable. A true couple cannot connect when love and communication are absent, and without these vital necessities a marriage is empty. Nora and Torvald had to learn this before they could commit themselves to any human being.

Nora had to understand that she could not rely on Torvald for her identity the rest of her life, and Torvald too had to understand that Nora was a person and he had to treat her as an equal. At first he only viewed Nora as a fulfillment for his need for a wife, but when she left he finally realized that he really did need her. Empty! She is gone. The most wonderful thing of all (72). Even though their marriage was shattered, both Torvald and Nora had to experience what they did to then grow and become truly independent themselves.

If they were sincere about making their marriage work the two had to know who they were, before they could give themselves over to another person. Because they had not done this, Nora knew that she had been living together with a strange man and had borne him three children (70). Marriage is when two people become one, and if those two do not have any identity to bring to that marriage, then they do not successfully unite to make one. Bibliography Ibsen, Henrik. A Dolls House. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1992.

A Dolls House

A Doll’s House The following essay will critically analyse a passage from the play A Dolls House by Henrik Ibsen. Between the pages 222 and 225 there seems to be shift in the plot, as Nora takes a different attitude towards her and Helmer’s relationship. All of a sudden instead of trying to preserve it, she wishes to leave the house. It could be argued that her radical change in mind is not irrational or unprovoked. Before she starts getting changed to leave, Helmer had just finished forgiving her, for he had received and read Krogstad’s second letter which included the forged document, but prior to this he had basically told her that he could no longer love her: Helmer: ..Oh, to think that I should have to say this to someone I’ve loved so much-someone I still … Well, that’s all over now-it must be; Then spontaneously he starts forgiving her as he had received the second letter, everything else he had told her before was forgotten.

It is very cold of him to go from one thing to another, hence it cannot possibly be believed that his feelings are true for Nora. People do not love a person one moment, and then deny them it, or vise versa. Nora’s reason for leaving, as she explains, is that she feels he doesn’t love her: Nora: You’ve never loved me, you’ve only found it pleasant to be in love with me. As well as her taking no part in family decisions or even her own, as she and Helmer have never sat down to have a serious discussion, in the past eight years, until now. She is his doll , and has no say in her own future, let alone her owner’s (Helmer). Another aspect, included in the book’s theme, is sexism, an attitude which stereotypes people according to gender. In forgiving Nora, Helmer makes various comments characterised as sexist.

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Firstly, he tells Nora: Helmer: ..It was just you hadn’t the experience to realise what you were doing. Here he is referring to the crime she committed of forging her father’s signature, to obtain the loan from Krogstad. This simple sentence shows Helmer’s lack of confidence in Nora’s decisions, he appears to be treating her as a child. He speaks of her inexperience, when in reality she is an adult, who has lived long enough to distinguish right from wrong. The manner in which he forgives her is as though he believes she did not know what she was getting into, like a child who plays with matches without foreseeing the consequences.

Still, he goes on to say: Helmer: ..I shouldn’t be a proper man if your feminine helplessness didn’t make you twice as attractive to me. Alone in itself this sentence has a lot to say for Helmer’s opinion on a man’s and woman’s place in society. In saying proper man means he has guidelines by which a man should act, and the part of feminine helplessness demonstrates he believes all women to be helpless. His finding her attractive due to this can be explained by the typical sexist desire to be superior to his partner. Although the example of sexism is very strong in this extract, throughout the book it is not as obvious, and there are other factors of the theme which are more prominent. One of these is Nora’s infant behaviour, which Helmer seems to fuel with his attitude towards her: Helmer: ..Ah, you don’t know what a real mans heart is like, Nora…I’ll be both your will and your conscience.

This sort of control that Helmer is exerting over Nora would be like that of a father’s over his daughter. Nora recognises this, and further on she compares Helmer with her father, and reaches the conclusion that they both treat her the same. Furthermore, Helmer scolds her: Helmer: ..Why, what’s this? Not in bed? I remember my own father telling me this in similar words, when I was younger and was out of bed after my bed-time. Unfortunately, Nora, an adult, is still living through the same. Finally, the title A Doll’s House suggest the situation Nora is living in, as she describes the to Helmer at one point.

She is the doll that was previously owned by her father, but now she is married to Helmer and he controls her. The metaphore is obviously between Nora and a doll, but Henrik also portays this image through the scenery. The house is what Helmer provides for Nora and her children, like someone would for their dolls. English Essays.

A Doll’s House

Women Have Come A Long Way
A Doll House is no more about womens rights than Shakespeares Richard II is about the divine right of kings, or Ghosts about syphilis. . . . Its theme is the need of every individual to find out the kind of person he or she is and to strive to become that person. (Bloom 28) Ibsen portays this behavior in A Doll House through one of the main characters, Nora Helmer, by setting the scene in Norway in 1872. In the late 1800s, women did not play an important role in society at all. Their job was mainly to cook, clean, sew, take care of the children, and keep the house in order. They were treated as a material possession rather than a human being that could think and act for themselves and looked upon as a decorative member of the household. Women were robbed of their true identity and at the end of the play, Nora leaves everything behind to go out into the world to seek her identity.

This behavior can be traced back to the beginning of time when women were to stay home and gather nuts and berries, while the men would go out and do the hunting and fishing. The male always dominated over the women and it was not viewed as unfair. Male children would go to school to get an education in history, mathematics, science, english/writing, while the female would go to school to learn how to cook, sew, clean, and do household chores. The male could then further advance his education by attending a college or university, whereas no college would accept a women student. The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of men toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. (Declaration of Sentiments) It was believed that women were the inferior gender and had to have special attention given to them. This idea dates back to the Medieval Period in history and is where the whole idea of chivalry came about and men having to provide special care. One can see that the idea of male superiority can be referenced back to very early on in civilization to the day A Doll House was written. Torvald: You stay right here and five me a reckoning. You understand what youve done? Answer! You understand? (Ibsen 187) Torvald says this to Nora when he finds out that she took out a loan without his consent and forging a signature. It is prevalent that Torvald is in a state of anger and he is dominating the situation, letting Nora know who is in charge and not even wanting an explanation to why? she took out a loan.

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Women were very limited in their rights in 1872. Such rights included: women had to submit to laws when they had no voice in their formation, married women had no property rights, husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives to the extent that they could imprison or beat them with impunity, divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned, women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law, and women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect, and were made totally dependent on men. (Declaration of Sentiments) Ibsen makes references to this using Christine Linde, widow and a friend to Nora. Christines husband died and left her penniless and being that her father passed away, she is able to apply for a position at he the bank. This is the only exception society made in women holding a job outside the household.
It is apparent that women have come a long way since 1872, gaining the right to vote in 1920 under the 19th amendment in the constitution, gaining a right to an equal education, owning property, and having a job. These were all results of the womens rights movement amongst others. Throughout the play, Nora plays the role of a typical women in the 1800s, staying by her husbands side, taking care of the children, and doing all the household chores. She does, however, go behind Torvalds back when she takes out the loan. When she realizes that she is unfit to do anything in life and announces her remedy-I have to try to educate myself (Ibsen 192) she walks out the door and expresses a deal of feminism universally agreed-upon base for womens emancipation,
telling Torvald that she no longer knows how to be his wife and no longer knows who she is. (Eisenberg 32) It was uncommon for women to walk out on their husbands as they do today because they were taught since they were little, to always please their husband and do everything in their power to satisfy and make him happy. This does not include walking out on him and leaving him with the children. Nora did not know any better because she came from being treated like a material object in her own house by her father, to being treated like one by Torvald. Youre not the man I thought you were. Both you and my father have both treated me like a doll. (Ibsen 191) Therefore, her whole life was based around other people making decisions for her and conformed to their way of thinking until the end of the play, when she walks out and makes her own decision.

Nora shows her childish ways throughout the play by eating macaroons, listening by Torvalds door, and by playing with the children. It is apparent that she is confused about marriage and her role as a woman in the 1800s. She does, however, make the right decision to leave although society views this as an immoral thing to do. This was considered sinful and God would punish you if you committed such an act of wrongdoing.

In conclusion, I think that women have made an incredible appearance and have play an immense role in todays society. Women are basically treated with equality today with men and the times sure have changed. Ibsens play is a very good example of how life was like for women in the past and they have obviously made progress since then. I am very proud of what women have done for todays society and I know that they will continue fighting this neverending battle for equality until the very end as Nora did.


Christina KatzEnglish IV
May 17, 1999 Senior Paper
Works Cited
Bloom, Harold. Ibsen, Henrik, 1828-1906-Criticism and Interpretation. New York:
Chelsea House Publishers, 1999.
Close Up Foundation Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls, New York, 1848.
http://www.closeup.org/sentiment/htm. 1997
Eisenberg, Bonnie. Legacy of 98: A Short History of The Movement.
http://www.legacy98.org/move-hist,html. 1997
Ibsen, Henirk. A Dolls House and Other Plays. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.,
1965.


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