Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House, which was written during the Victorian era, introduced a woman as having her own purposes and goals, making the play unique and contemporary. Nora, the main character, is first depicted as a doll or a puppet because she relies on her husband, Torvald Helmer, for everything, from movements to thoughts, much like a puppet who is dependent on its puppet master for all of its actions. Nora’s duties, in general, are restricted to playing with the children, doing housework, and working on her needlepoint. A problem with her responsibilities is that her most important obligation is to please Helmer. Helmer thinks of Nora as being as small, fragile, helpless animal and as childlike, unable to make rational decisions by herself. This is a problem because she has to hide the fact that she has made a decision by herself, and it was an illegal one.
In Act I, it seems evident that Nora does not understand the actual value of money but she has an infatuation with luxuries such as expensive Christmas gifts and she justifies this by buying less expensive clothes, which she has confided in Mrs. Linde, her friend. Helmer, immediately labels his wife as a “little spendthrift” (Ibsen, 660). She seems to think that money can be easily borrowed and paid back.
Nora: Oh, but Torvald, we can squander a little now. Can’t we? Just a tiny, wee bit. Now that you’ve got a big salary and are going to make piles and piles of money. (Ibsen, 660)
Helmer feels strongly that women and finances should have nothing to do with each other, and that a woman could never rationally economize a household. He feels that taking loans out in order to buy expensive items is unnecessary and most importantly, what would other people think?
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...t she feels Walter has taken it all away from her.
At the end of the play it is unclear whether or not Beneatha would actually leave her family in order to find herself and pursue her dreams of becoming a doctor. She is obviously is not going to marry George, although Walter would like her to because of the money. Living in such close quarters for so many years with her family, she developed a love-hate relationship with all of them. I would be surprised if she did actually go to Africa. Like Nora, Beneatha at the end of the play has a strong sense of self. She knows what she wants, and is determined to accomplish her dream.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. The Bedford Introduction to Drama. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 1274 – 1310.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House. The Bedford Introduction to Drama. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston: Bedford/ST. Martin’s, 2001. 659 – 688.
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