Theme Of Realism In A Doll's House

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How the Effects of Nora Helmer’s Secrets and Guilt Create a Statement Concerning Women’s Role in Society in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House
Henrik Ibsen’s play entitled A Doll House focuses on the secrets and deceit of a Victorian era housewife named Nora. Nora is originally portrayed as naïve and foolish, but the true depth of her character and the duplicity against her husband is revealed when she confides in a friend at the start of the play. Nora has broken the law, politically and socially, by going behind her husband’s back and receiving a loan to pay for his medical bills. Ibsen made sure to emphasize that Nora’s actions were totally and completely against the social norm of late 1800’s Norway; men were expected to take out necessary loans,
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A Doll House is widely considered to be one of the first and most poignant examples of realism in drama. Ibsen developed a definitive plot in A Doll House, but the play is primarily a social critique that examines the role of women in society. Nora frets endlessly about the effects of her betrayal but by the end of the play she becomes reflective and even a bit scornful of her husband and the role he has helped force her in to. Right before Nora is going to abandon her family, Torvald comments that, “no man would sacrifice his honor for the one he loves”. Nora’s caustic reply is that, “it is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done” (3. 67). The plight of women in western society has been confusing and arduous. Nora’s crime was an ill-fated attempt to save her husband’s life, but her total abandonment of the marriage seems relatable and almost reasonable to the audience after they are shown Torvald’s misogynistic opinions. Torvald is invariably patronizing towards his wife and is offended and emasculated when he learns that Nora has gone behind his back and saved his life without his assistance. Nora acknowledges this hypocrisy in act three when she says, “I am learning, too, that the law is quite another thing from what I supposed; but I find it impossible to convince myself that the law is right. According to it a woman has no right to spare her old dying father, or to save her husband 's life” (3. 63). Nora recognizes her place in society, but she also recognizes how much shame it inflicts upon her. Ibsen frequently alludes to Nora’s emotions and worries which aid in the realistic tone of the play and makes it easy for members of the audience, especially for women, to understand that Nora never meant any harm by her deceitful behavior. The only reason her husband
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