This aesthetically shaped play depicts traditional gender roles and the subsequent social struggles that every woman encounter in a stereotyped society. Though, Nora fits rightly to the nineteenth century social norm of submissive housewife
Ibsen acknowledges the fact that in 19th century life the role of the woman was to stay at home, raise the children and attend to her husband. Nora Helmer is the character in A Doll House who plays the 19th woman and is portrayed as a victim. Michael Meyers said of Henrik Ibsen's plays: "The common denominator in many of Ibsen's dramas is his interest in individuals struggling for and authentic identity in the face of tyrannical social conventions. This conflict often results in his characters' being divided between a sense of duty to themselves and their responsibility to others. "(1563) All of the aspects of this quote can be applied to the play A Doll House, in Nora Helmer's character, who throughout much of the play is oppressed, presents an inauthentic identity to the audience and throughout the play attempts to discovery her authentic identity.
In the 19th century, women were not seen in society as being an equal to men. Men were responsible for providing and taking care of the family while their wives stayed at home not allowed leaving without their husbands. In The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman writes about a woman named Jane who is trapped by society’s cage and tries to find herself. Throughout the story, the theme of self-discovery is developed through the symbols of the nursery, the journal and the wallpaper. In the 1800’s, women lived under men’s rules and ideologies and were forced to conform to the social “norms” of the time.
Nora Helmer, a protagonist, and women in the 19th century shared the same status of being valued submissively by society. They were expected to stay home and perform domestic duties. It aimed to portray the possible changes of women to come by having Nora represented the negative treatment but, in the end, twisted the status of women to be responsible and equal to men. In the story, when Torvald, her beloved husband, asked her what she wants for the holidays, she replied, “you could give me money, Torvald. Only what you think you can spare- and then one of these days I'll buy something with it”(P.150).
Women were often treated as objects by men. Little girls were raised to be good mothers and wives. They were taught their role was to make their families happy even if they were not happy themselves. In the play, Nora mentions the way she was treated when she was living at home in her father's house. She is raised no to have her own identity.
Alana Barton states in her research, “Wives and mothers took responsibility for the domestic management of the family and ‘spiritual leadership’ in the home power in the household lay with men although this was contingent on the willing compliance of wives and children” (90). Torvald is the head of the home and expects Nora to follow his rules and tell him everything he needs to know. The women of the play A Doll’s House, represent the women of the 19th century, the life that they had, and how they were expected to live. Nora is expected to be married to Torvald to have a happy life and a source of income. Nora had to follow the rule that Torvald wanted and she had to ask him for money or else she would have none to spend.
Support your ideas with specific details. According to the short story “I stand here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen, in 1957 the people believed the mother was supposed to know everything about each of her children. The theme that is shown most is the stress of being a mother and the society expects them to do everything at home. The other theme in the story is regret and guilt in the sense that the mother was the cause for her daughter’s outbursts and not spending more time with her when she was younger. The traditional role that the society wishes woman in 1957 would embrace is that they would stay home, help the kids with homework, the mothers would have to know everything about the kids, cook for everybody, do the laundry and clean the house.
The roles of women have changed substantially throughout time. During the 19th century, it was normal for a man to dominantly rule his household. Ibsen wrote the play, A Doll House, in hopes of demonstrating and criticizing the marital roles of his century. It is clear Ibsen believed in a world that is equal. In this play, Ibsen created characters that struggled to escape these impractical expectations.
Title: To what extent can Nora be viewed as a ‘New Woman’ in “A Doll’s House”? In Henrik Ibsen’s drama A Doll’s House, the playwright uses the protagonist, Nora, to present an atypical depiction of 19th century women. Throughout the course of the play, Nora progresses from a childish dependent wife to an independent woman who leaves her husband. She shows aspects of progressing from an Angel of the House to a New Woman. During the time period, an Angel of the House was a wife who was expected to be, powerless, self-sacrificing and above all, pure.
In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Nora Helmer is a traditional “angel in the house” she is a human being, but first and foremost a wife and a mother who is devoted to the care of her children, and the happiness of her husband. The play is influenced by the Victorian time period when the division of men and women was evident, and each gender had their own role to conform to. Ibsen’s views on these entrenched values is what lead to the A Doll’s House becoming so controversial as the main overarching theme of A Doll’s House is the fight for independence in an otherwise patriarchal society. This theme draws attention to how women are capable in their own rights, yet do not govern their own lives due to the lack of legal entitlement and independence. Although Ibsen’s play can be thought to focus on the theme of materialism vs. people, many critics argue that Ibsen challenges the traditional gender roles through his portrayal of Nora and Torvald.