The status of women in the 1800's, when A Doll's House was written, was that of a second-class citizen. Women did not have the right to vote, own property, or make legal transactions. The role of women was restricted to that of a housewife. In A Doll's House, Ibsen does a wonderful job of presenting the character of Nora as person who goes though an awakening about her life. In the beginning, she concerns herself only with being a perfect wife and mother according to the social norms of the time. Later, she realizes that she cannot continue just being her husband's shadow. Eventually, she decides that she has duties to herself that are above of those of being a wife. She confronts the fact that she's not complete being the way that her husband, society and the church want for her to be.
Ibsen exposes the fact that Nora's self image has been molded by the men of her life. First, she is a doll-child ... then a doll-bride. She's a little play toy for the men - a beautiful possession to show off to their friends. This presents the reality of women in the 1800's. Women were often treated as objects by men.
Little girls were raised to be good mothers and wives. They were taught their role was to make their families happy even if they were not happy themselves. In the play, Nora mentions the way she was treated when she was living at home in her father's house. She is raised no to have her own identity.
Nora: Yes, it's true now, Torvald. When I lived at home with Papa, he told me all his opinions, so I had the same ones too; or if they were different I hid them, since he wouldn't have care for that. He used to call...
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... is representative of the awakening of society to the changing view of the role of woman. A Doll's House magnificently illustrates the need for and a prediction of this change.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Clurman, Harold. 1977. Ibsen. New York: Macmillan.
Heiberg, Hans. 1967. Ibsen. A Portrait of the Artist. Coral Gables, Florida: University of Miami.
Ibsen, Henrik. "A Doll's House." Perrine's Literature. Forth Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1998. pp. 967-1023
Northam, John. 1965. "Ibsen's Search for the Hero." Ibsen. A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
Shaw, Bernard. "A Doll's House Again." Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1979.
Sturman, Marianne Isben's Plays I, A Doll's House Cliffs Notes, 1965.
Thomas, David. Henrik Ibsen. New York: Grove, 1984
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