In Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, pointedly captures the reality of the Victorian Era within the play. Nora Helmer, the protagonist of the story, represents the typical women in society during that era. The audience’s first impression of Nora is a money obsessed, childish, obedient house wife to her husband, Torvald Helmer. However, as the play progresses one can see that Nora is far from being that typical ideal trophy wife, she is an impulsive liar who goes against society’s norm to be whom and what she wants. Her husband is illustrated as the stereotypical man during the 19th century, as he is the dominate breadwinner of the family, who too deserts his position as the play reaches its end.
Nora is treated like a child in this relationship, but as the play progresses she begins to realize how phony her marriage is. Torvald sees Nora's only role as being the subservient and loving wife. He refers to Nora as "my little squirrel" (p.1565), "my little lark" (p.1565), or "spendthrift"(1565). To him, she is only a possession. Torvald calls Nora by pet-names and speaks down to her because he thinks that she is not intelligent and that she can not think on her own.
Nora borrows money behind her husband’s back (which is illegal at this time) and tries to cover up everything she has done. Ibsen employs the use of many themes and symbols in his A Doll House to show the reader just how Nora was a doll-child who evolved into a doll-wife. The central theme of A Doll House is a true marriage us a joining of equals. The entire play centers in on the crumbling of a marriage that is just the opposite of this. At the beginning of the play both of the Helmers seem happy with their marriage.
The basis for Nora and Torvald's relationship appears to be centered around love, but this was not exactly obtained. Torvald doesn't really love Nora in a mature way; he just looks at her as another child. He has many nicknames for his wife including "lark" and "squirrel" which are small animals and used as symbols of foreshadowing. By using these symbols, Torvald looks at his wife as being smaller than himself and therefore easy to control. He always refers to Nora as my something.
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.
Through the eyes of society in the late 1800s, women were seen only as incompetent pretty little nothings. Keeping an eyeful watch on the house, starting their pre-destined act of motherhood, and becoming followers on the narrow path behind their husbands were the duties of a woman. In Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, he criticizes the sexist ways women were exploited in 1879, during a time known as The Victorian Era. Nora’s character, in A Doll’s House, represents the treatment that every woman was subjected to during The Victorian Era. As pure little play dolls for their husbands, women were treated in extremely childish ways.
We ascertain initial perceptions of the individuals only to be whirl winded to the truth in the end. Ibsen presents Nora as a submissive, materialistic, and childish woman. She appears to be a “spendthrift” (Ibsen 609), squandering money on her selfish material wants. Her husband, Torvald treats her like a child, never referring to her by anything but a sweet pet name, “Is that my little lark twittering out there?...When did my squirrel get in?” (Ibsen 609). He is often busy, and does not give Nora an equal part in the marriage, again belittling her potential.
Through characters such as Nils Krogstad and Torvald Helmer, one sees how those living in this society worried primarily over their social standing and reputation, while through the character of Mrs. Lindie the reader sees how even women fell into the trap of behaving as “dolls”: doing everything that is expected of them while remaining obedient. Though some of these characters may seem cruel, they have a huge impact on Nora’s character and help push her towards the realization that she is not living as she wants to live. Brunnemer says, “There is an evolutionary process whereby the mini-Nora of the opening scenes becomes the super-Nora of the close” (1). In the beginning of the play, Nora is portrayed as an obedient wife who would never stray from her husband’s wishes, and subsequently society’s expectations. By the end of the play, we see her blossom into an individual who wishes to make her own decisions and follow her own path.
In A Doll's House Henrik Ibsen focuses on the lack of power and authority given to women, but through Nora we also see the strength and willpower masked by her husband Torvald. To save her husband's life Nora secretly forges her father's signature and receives a loan to finance a trip to the sea. Nora's ... ... middle of paper ... .... Chekhov short plays London:Oxford UP,1969 Durbach, Errol. A Doll's House: Ibsen's Myth of Transformation. Boston: Twayne, 1991.
In particular, he has a very clear and narrow definition of a woman's role. At the beginning of the story, as from the title of the play, Nora symbolizes the “doll” in the house, which means that she has been treated as treats Nora like a child or doll. For example, husband called Nora ‘bird’ and it implies that husband treats her like his pet and she is his doll as the title is a doll house. In other words, her husband wanted her to be a ‘lark' or ‘songbird' so he can enjoy h... ... middle of paper ... ...s play, Susan Glaspell makes arguments toward inequality between men and women. In conclusion, Even though both Ibsen and Glaspell are showing the responsible for giving women insight to what their lives could be as an independent person who is treated as an equal, their plays deals somewhat different sight to deals with the problems of the inequality between men and women.