Nora’s final actions in the end of Henrick Ibsen’s “A Doll House” have certainly been the object of much criticism. In fact, “So much has it disturbed audiences that a few well-known productions changed the ending to have her return before the curtain falls”(Brooks). After all, why would a mother abandon her children and her husband with no clear indication to if she were going to return? In its time, Nora’s decision was considered disgraceful as well as practically unheard of, and, continues to be an albeit less shocking force in contemporary analysis. A deeper understanding of Nora’s reasons in her seeming dereliction of her family, however, requires the observation of the paternal figures and their broader interpretations. Through examination of these characters and the symbols they represent, the stereotypes of maternal and patriarchal figures are dismantled, all leading to an ending in which Nora’s closing of the door of the “doll house” was the only truly right thing to do.
Along with the deconstruction of the gender roles of women, the defaming of the father figure certainly takes an important role. In Ibsen’s play, “fatherhood, ordinarily associated with the authority and stability of patriarchy, is associated with abandonment, illness, absence, and corruption” (Rosefeldt). Torvald, Krogstad, Nora’s father, and Mrs Linde’s father all display tendencies that clash with the western stereotypes of patriarchal figures. Torvald, for all of his talk of the corruption that poisons homes, is willing to comply to Krogstad’s demands when he learns of his wife’s forgery. He blames Nora’s actions on her “father’s flimsy values”(Ibsen 845), ...
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...l-wife, just as at home I was Papa’s doll-child”(Ibsen 848). She recognizes that the boundaries that society has set on gender, marriage, and parenthood do not reflect reality. The father figures do not always protect. The mother figures are not always weak. Helmer claims he would “… gladly work for you day and night, Nora — and take on pain and deprivation. But there is no one who gives up honor for love” (Ibsen 850). Nora, however, knows better. She replies, “Millions of women have done just that”(Ibsen 850). While Helmer takes pride in his honor, Nora’s love is just as powerful. Nora does not leave the doll house with all of her questions answered. She leaves the doll house knowing that she must learn the answers for herself. She does not leave the doll house in fear of being without guidance, “but rather leaves her home knowing she can survive”(DeVaull).
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