Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

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When one reads Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll House for the first time, at first glance they may focus on the themes of interpersonal relationships and a variety of deceitful acts. However, during the third act it becomes apparent the controversial impact that A Doll House is going to have around the world for years to come. When Nora slams the door on her marriage and therefore her children, there was outrage around the world. According to A Doll’s House by David M. Galens and Lynn M. Spampinato, the critics could not believe that a woman would “voluntarily choose to sacrifice her children in order to seek her own identity.” In fact, Galens and Spampinato point out that Ibsen had to write an alternate ending for the play by the management of its first German production when even the actress refused to portray a mother who would leave her children. Galens and Spampinato stated that the alternate ending portrayed Nora changing her mind upon seeing her children for the last time and that Ibsen considered this alternate ending “a barbaric outrage to be used only in emergencies.” According to Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing written by Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell, the cultural context in 1879 when the play was first published and performed prevented “women from voting, handling their own finances or borrowing money in their own name (1165).” Ibsen’s use of symbolism, irony and realism work together to demonstrate the struggles that women faced during the Nineteenth century.

The Nineteenth century posed many obstacles for woman around the world. According to Eric Foner and John Garraty, during the middle of the nineteenth century in America women were required to follow common law which meant that everything s...

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...ould not be a good mother because many women become bitter and mistreat their children. Some argued that it was actually a sign of strength that Nora made the decision that she made (Galens and Spampinato). This can also be reflected in A Doll House, when Torvald tells Nora that when there is deceit in the home the children are the ones who suffer and “every breath the children take in is filled with the germs of something degenerate (1: 474). Torvald then goes on to blame the mother for all children who go bad in life (1: 476). Then when the nurse tries to bring the children to see Nora she refuses to see them because she has the revelation that she is guilty of deceit and according to her husband’s assertions her children were in danger from her. Nora states “Hurt my children! Poison my home! That’s not true. Never. Never in all the world (1:482,483,485).
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