In the Victorian era, the status of women in society was extremely oppressive and, by modern standards, atrocious. Women had few rights, in or outside of the home. Married women in this period relied on men almost completely as they had few rights or independence. With this mindset in focus, Nora is the perfect wife and mother. She does what her husband and father tell her to do, and in turn, she becomes a decoration or a ‘doll,’ not an individual. Not surprisingly, her husband, Torvald, is condescending and patronizing towards her, treating her, to some extent, as if she were a child.
Through the course of the drama’s events, Nora finally realizes her position. Her childish mentality comes into question through a series of events that awakens her to her role as a wife, her position in society, and her individuality. Originally, from her father, and later with Torvald, she sees that she has been held back as an individual, "I have existed merely to preform tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it so. You and Papa have committed a great sin against me. It is your fault that I have made nothing of my life (Isben 106).” In the climax of the play, Nora, with a renewed sense of self, slams the door and leaves her old life behind, seemingly to begin a new life without limitations.
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...omen authors was autobiographical in its reflection of female oppression, seeing episodes of conflict in the novels as dramatizations of the wider cultural scene of the patriarchy’s oppression of women (O'Gorman).”
Although in current times “A Doll’s House” might not appear radical to the western world, the play remains a classic with lessons that even modern women can learn. It remains a true classic speaks about independence, social roles and society in general.
Ibsen, Henrik, Arne Kildal, Lee M. Hollander, and Bibliographical Appendix. Speeches and New Letters. New York: Haskell House, 1972. Print.
Isben, Henrik. A Doll's House. Maryland: Serinity, 2009. Print.
O'Gorman, Francis. The Victorian Novel. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Pub., 2002. Print.
Vicinus, Martha. Suffer and Be Still: Women in the Victorian Age. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1973. Print.
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