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Analysis Of Women In 'a Dolls House'

1514 words - 7 pages

Women were valued very little by nineteenth century society. The treatment of these women was also extremely negative; they were stereotypical housewives, expected to stay home and fulfill domestic duties. Literature of this time embodies and mirrors social issues of women in society. Henrik Ibsen uses Nora Helmer in "A Doll's House" to portray the negative treatment of all women throughout society during the nineteenth century. In this play we see Nora begin as fragile, nieve creature and progress to an individual, independent woman.Written during the Victorian era, the controversial play featuring a female protagonist seeking individuality stirred up more controversy than any of his other ...view middle of the document...

Clement Scott describes the initial image of Nora as that of "a doll wife who revels in the thought of luxuries that can now be afforded, who is become with flirtation, and engages in childlike acts of disobedience "(TCLC 221). This inferior role from which Nora progressed is extremely important. Ibsen depicts the role of women as subordinate in order to emphasize the need to reform their role in society. Definite characteristics of the women's subordinate role in a relationship are emphasized through Nora's contradicting actions. Her infatuation with luxuries such as expensive Christmas gifts contradicts her resourcefulness in scrounging and buying cheap clothing. Her defiance of Torvald by eating forbidden Macaroons contradicts the submission of her opinions, including the decision of which dance outfit to wear, to her husband. Lastly, Nora's flirtatious nature contradicts her devotion to her husband. These occurrences emphasize the facets of a relationship in which women play a dependent role: finance, power, and love. Ibsen attracts our attention to these examples to highlight the overall subordinate role that a woman plays compared to that of her husband. The two sides of Nora contrast each other greatly and accentuate the fact that she is lacking in independence of will. The mere fact that Nora's well-intentioned action is considered illegal reflects woman's subordinate position in society; but it is her actions that provide the insight to this position. It can be suggested that women have the power to choose which rules to follow at home, but not in the business world, thus again indicating her subordinateness.This leads me to my next position that Nora fulfills through her journey to independence. The character trait of naivety is expressed when she doesn't believe that she has done anything wrong. Nora does not at first realize that the rules outside the household apply to her. This is evident in Nora's meeting with Krogstad regarding her borrowed money. In her opinion it was no crime for a woman to do everything possible to save her husband's life. She also believes that her act will be overlooked because of her desperate situation. She fails to see that the law does not take into account the motivation behind her forgery. William Archer submits that this meeting with Krogstad was her first confrontation with the reality of a "lawful society" and she deals with it by attempting to distract herself with her Christmas decorations (231). Thus her first encounter with rules outside of her "doll's house" results in the realization of her naivety and inexperience with the real world due to her subordinate role in society. The character of Nora is not only important in describing to role of women, but also in emphasizing the impact of this role on a woman. Nora's child-like manner, evident through her minor acts of disobedience and lack of responsibility compiled with her lack of sophistication further emphasize the subordinate role of woman....

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