Henrik Ibsen 's A Doll House Essay

Henrik Ibsen 's A Doll House Essay

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In 1879, a very controversial piece of literature work was premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was a play named A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen was born in 1828 into a well-off family from Norway that later went bankrupt. After a few years of taking trivial job position, he fled to Italy and Germany, where he produced some of his most famous works, including this one. “A Doll House” illustrates the issues of feminism and marriage institution of the 19th century. The main character, Nora Helmer, starts out as a submissive housewife to her husband, Torvald Helmer, who controls her behavior, finance, and eating habit. However, at the end of the play, after realizing that she has been living merely as a doll-wife, Nora leaves her husband, which shocked many audiences of Ibsen’s time and today. Nevertheless, Nora made the right decision because, despites the 19th century social standards and the uncertainties she will be facing in the future, the freedom is essential to her development as an individual human and a member of society and her family.
Many critics, such as Clement Scott in his 1889 review, consider Nora’s action as a selfish deed, putting herself above her family. That is true, but then, a person’s duty is first to herself before anyone else. The parents’ job is to educate their children and how can Nora do that if she don’t know who she is. After all, Nora is born first as a human being before as a wife and a mother. She has the duties to educate herself since her father and husband fail to do so. She needs to learn to have her own individual opinions because opinions are essential to the development of society. Also, as “a human being, no less than [any man],” she is entitled to a freewill, ...


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...artedly believes that she did the right thing, “protect[ing] her dying father [and saving] her husband’s life (Ibsen 938). She didn’t mean to cheat Krogstad. Regardless of her naivety, she had a good intention. Morality is as much about having the right intention as doing the right action. Nora acted on her conscience and that’s is all anyone can expect; she never faces reality or studies the law, so people can’t expect her to understand what she never learn. Yet, the facts she is able to think for herself and to question conformity prove that Nora has the capability to be on her own, learning about the world and herself. She wants to “discover who’s right, the world or [her]” and that is a novel and worthy goal (Ibsen 938). If one day she crawls back to where she started (Torvald) like some critics predict, then at least she knows for sure that is the right answer.

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