Reasons Nora Helmer Must Leave Her Husband in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll House

Reasons Nora Helmer Must Leave Her Husband in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll House

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Reasons Nora Helmer Must Leave Her Husband in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll House

Foreward: Henrik Ibsen's A Doll House (aka A Doll's House) is so rich in moral, political, and metaphysical (if one is to regard such matters as "selfhood" and "identity" as metaphysical) insights and criticisms that it is hard to imagine how one could absorb it all in one sitting. Its moral message was very bold in its day and remains so in the more slowly progressing parts of the world, like North America. Institutions move faster than attitudes (at least in times of progressive, interventionist governance) and there are many lag-minded relics who still don't understand why equal-rights legislation has had to be passed or what "all the fuss" has been about regarding racial, sexual (in terms of gender and orientation), and social discontent. To some readers, the play may represent an old regime and an antiquated system of values and expectations. However, the fact that still other readers do not see the necessity of Nora's leaving Helmer, and in fact go so far as to condemn her, shows that this system is not as dead as one might hope. That Nora's case requires pleading in this day and age is regrettable. Yet, here is her case.

Thesis: Nora Helmer must leave her husband and children for their sake, for her own sake, and for the sake of society. The following assumes familiarity with the details of the play.

That she must leave for the good of Torvald: He must learn manners. Despite all, he deserves not to be lied to or played to. He needs to be told he is a pompous ass before he reforms. If Nora were to stay with him after telling him off, she would feel pity and recant. Bullies are always sulks when they are confronted. As soon as she began cod...

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Pearsall, Marilyn, ed. Women and Values: Readings in Recent Feminist Philosophy. Third Edition. Toronto: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1999.

1 "P is true because S says so", where 'P' is some proposition and 'S' is some sort of supposed authority on the matter, is not a valid argument in any case. The truth-value of P is an entirely separate matter from the identity of S. Appeal to tradition, which could be called the fallacy of conservatism, takes the form "P is true because it is what has been traditionally been believed". P could be something like, "A woman's place is in the home," which would be false no matter who believed it. This assumes acceptance of the notion that no one has a "place" other than that which they choose.
2That is, all are free to decide/discover what happiness is for them. It may not be what tradition tells them it should.

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