In many cultures, a woman is expected to assume the role of the submissive, attentive wife. Often, a woman's role is limited by society to that of wife and mother. Henrik Ibsen, in his play A Doll's House examines the consequences of the stereotypical roles of women in marriage. Isben allows the reader to follow Nora, the main character, “along her difficult journey to regain her self-esteem and self worth”(Durbach 153).
From the very first lines of the play, we notice the status quo between Torvald and Nora. Torvald is the stereotypically strong, dignified husband while Nora is "little skylark twittering" (Isben 148). Torvald's continual reference to Nora using bird names parallels Nora's image of herself. For example, in the first act, Torvald continually refers to Nora as his "little featherbrain," his "little scatterbrain," his "squirrel sulking", and most importantly his "song bird." These images of weak birds characterize Nora as a weak person. The simple twittering, little birds we see every day are very susceptible to cold weather and to dying and so is Nora. The image of a "little featherbrain" and a "little scatterbrain" indicate stupidity. Nora can't think for herself because her thoughts are scattered and unorganized.
In contrast, we are led to believe that Torvald is the loving and accommodating husband. He treats Nora like a child. She, not knowing any better at this stage, acts accordingly. For example, as a child forbidden by its mother from eating candy before dinner, Nora hides her "forbidden" macaroons from Torvald. Acting as a parent, Torvald suspects her hiding macaroons from him. He repeatedly asks her if she is sure she didn't eat any macaroons. Nor...
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...ous struggle to break free of her caged prison. In the beginning of the play, she is first weak and child-like. She then gains some strength to stand up to Mrs. Lind, even going as far as helping her, and to push off Krogstad. “She finally, after realizing Torvald's true character, breaks free of her cage and does what birds do best – Fly”(Templeton 1636).
Works Cited and Consulted
Durbach, Errol. A Doll's House: Ibsen's Myth of Transformation. Boston: Twayne, 1991.
Goodman, Lizbeth In James McFarlane (ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Ibsen. Cambridge University Press. 1994
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House (1879). Trans. Rolf Fjelde. Rpt. in Michael Meyer, ed. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 5th edition. Boston & New York: Bedford/St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Templeton, Joan. "Is A Doll House a Feminist Text?" (1989). Rpt. In Meyer. 1635-36.
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