29 May 2019
Feminist and Gender Criticism Amongst “A Doll’s House”
In the nineteenth century, women transitioned from accepting the loss of their identity as
a married woman to overcoming traditional gender roles by constant resistance. During the late
nineteenth century, this new idea of an independent woman became desirable to achieve as a
woman. “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen is a play demonstrating the gradual independence a
woman gains after leaving a traditional nineteenth century marriage caused by the burdens of
debt. In Henrik Ibsen’s play, Nora has proven herself to fit as another victim of gender
oppression in the time of her marital distress. Feminist and gender literary criticism examines
how literature works incorporates patriarchal attitudes and societies; or in Nora’s case, ending
her marriage for the belittlement of the woman she is he has bestowed on her. Although Nora
chooses to become fully independent later on, Tolvard plays a dominant role in the marriage.
From the beginning of the play, Nora makes her own decision as an independent
individual even if it is in shame. A married couple, Nora and Torvald Helmer, are immediately
presented as ones who struggle financially for Nora’s spending habits along with the
insufficiency of Torvald’s current salary. An employee for Torvald, Nils Krogstad, allows Nora
to illegally borrow money for a trip to Italy with her husband that only she and Krogstad know
about. Throughout the play, Krogstad blackmails Nora by telling her to do what she can to make
him look good enough to keep his job after finding out Torvald wants to fire him. When she fails
to do so, Krogstad writes a letter proclaiming the truth to expose it to her husband, which she
attempts to create distractions from him seeing. After a friend, Mrs. Kristine Linde, is asked by
Nora to assist her in dealing with Krogstad, Miss Linde and Krogstad eventually fall in love.
This causes Krogstad to change his mind about exposing his secret with Nora, but Torvald finds
the letter in his mailbox anyways. Torvald is infuriated with his wife and invalidates her
motherly capabilities because of her failure to communicate her financial decision with him. As a
result of this insult, Nora concludes that she should leave the marriage to become who she needs
to be for herself even after the second letter of financial forgiveness by Krogstad is opened. The
insult was the final straw Nora had with her husband for all forms of him mistreating her.
Their marriage seems to be well and loving in the very beginning when the two begin to
converse as they talk about the approaching holidays. However, throughout the play the two
seem to be satisfied with making separate decisions. One example is when Torvald makes the
sudden decision to fire Krogstad after Nora specifically asks him not to by saying, “You say my
attitude’s petty, so I must be petty too! Petty! Fine! Well, I’ll put a stop to...