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A Doll's House, by Henry Ibsen Essay

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In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House, a drama written in the midst of an 1879, middle-class, suburban Europe, he boldly depicts a female protagonist. In a culture with concern for fulfilling, or more so portraying a socially acceptable image, Nora faces the restraints of being a doll in her own house and a little helpless bird. She has been said to be the most complex character of drama, and rightfully so, the pressure of strict Victorian values is the spark that ignites the play's central conflicts. Controversy is soon to arise when any social-norm is challenged, which Nora will eventually do. She evolves throughout the play, from submissive housewife to liberated woman. It seems as though what took women in America almost a century to accomplish, Nora does in a three-day drama. Ibsen challenges the stereotypical roles of men and women in a societally-pleasing marriage. He leads his readers through the journey of a woman with emerging strength and self-respect. Nora plays the typical housewife, but reveals many more dimensions that a typical woman would never portray in such a setting.
I find the metaphorical meanings in particular, quite supplementary to the overall plot, as well as the irony that sets us up for tense situations in which any drama should do. Directly after the title of the drama, we are immediately primed with the social standards of the time as the first character is listed: “Torvald Helmer - a lawyer,” and underneath his name: “Nora - his wife.” She above all else is first a wife and a mother; these titles assume her primary duties and responsibilities. Nora however is not much more than a “trophy wife” to Mr. Helmer and a playmate to her children. Torvald refers to her with what seem to be degrading nick...


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...nding, "thousands of women have" (875). This statement allows for Nora to realize her many accomplishments and her worthiness of a larger award than what she has ever been given. Torvald stops referring to her using bird metaphors, he now sees her strengths that far exceed his own. Instead of her relying on him, he is dependent upon her to keep his beloved public image. Nora no longer relies on his claims of "wide wings to shelter you with," (871) she breaks free and uses her own recently discovered wings to escape Torvald’s sheltering. One throughout the play is almost hoping for the “greatest miracle,” but can see Nora’s struggle to break free of her caged prison. Nora has set herself free to fly just as birds were created to do, and the sound of a door slamming shut emphasizes her gained strength.




Works Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House. 1983. Print.


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