The Struggle for Identity in A Doll’s House

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The Struggle for Identity in A Doll's House A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, is a play that was written ahead of its time. In this play Ibsen tackles women's rights as a matter of importance. Throughout this time period it was neglected. A Doll's House was written during the movement of Naturalism, which commonly reflected society. 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. The inferior role of Nora is extremely important to her character. Nora is oppressed by a variety of "tyrannical social conventions." Ibsen in his "A Doll's House" depicts the role of women as subordinate in order to emphasize their role in society. Nora is oppressed by the manipulation from Torvald. Torvald has a very typical relationship with society. He is a smug bank manager. With his job arrive many responsibilities. He often treats his wife as if she is one of these responsibilities. Torvald is very authoritative and puts his appearance, both social and physical, ahead of his wife that he supposedly loves. Torvald is a man that is worried about his reputation, and cares little about his wife's feelings. Nora and Torvald's relationship, on the outside appears to be a happy. 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.
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