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A Doll’s House

The enforcement of specific gender roles by societal standards in 19th century married life proved to be suffocating. Women were objects to perform those duties for which their gender was thought to have been created: to remain complacent, readily accept any chore and complete it “gracefully” (Ibsen 213). Contrarily, men were the absolute monarchs over their respective homes and all that dwelled within. In Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House, Nora is subjected to moral degradation through her familial role, the consistent patronization of her husband and her own assumed subordinance. Ibsen belittles the role of the housewife through means of stage direction, diminutive pet names and through Nora’s interaction with her morally ultimate husband, Torvald. Nora parades the façade of being naïve and frivolous, deteriorating her character from being a seemingly ignorant child-wife to a desperate woman in order to preserve her illusion of the security of home and ironically her own sanity. A Doll’s House ‘s depiction of the entrapment of the average 19th century housewife and the societal pressures placed upon her displays a woman’s gradual descent into madness. Ibsen illustrates this descent through Torvald’s progressive infantilization of Nora and the pressure on Nora to adhere to societal norms. Nora is a woman pressured by 19th century societal standards and their oppressive nature result in the gradual degradation of her character that destroys all semblances of family and identity.Nora’s role in her family is initially portrayed as being background, often “laughing quietly and happily to herself” (Ibsen 148) because of her isolation in not only space, but also person. Ibsen’s character rarely ventures from the main set of the drawi...

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...ild-wife devolves into that of a desperate woman to preserve the illusion of the perfect home. In order for Nora to preserve her sanity she was essentially forced to break free of the stereotypical 19th century familial constraints. Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House, depicts the entrapment of an average housewife and the societal pressures placed upon her. The play displays her gradual descent into what would be deemed “madness” in that specific time period. Ibsen illustrates Nora’s fall from societal grace as a result of her desire to represent herself as an individual, and to no longer be inhibited by the social norms placed upon her. Nora’s oppression spurred on by Torvald, society and herself resulted in the complete degradation of her character that destroyed all semblance of the illusion of her perfect family and her enforced 19th century housewife identity.
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