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In A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen reveals how society and authority hinders the development of individuality. By examining how Nora’s father treated her, the way Nora’s husband talked to her, a woman’s social expectations, and the social status of women, Ibsen sets forth the image of a stiffed woman, trapped in an unhappy marriage. Nora’s father treated her as if she was just a little play doll. He belittled her and treated Nora like a baby. Referencing to her father, Nora illustrates this by saying, “ . . . He called me his little doll, and he played with me just the way I played with my dolls. Then I came to live in your house . . . I was passed from Papa’s hands to yours,”(Act III 1120). The way Torvald, Nora’s husband, talked to her showed how he degraded and belittled Nora. He talked to Nora as if she was inferior to him.
He implied that he was a better person due to his social status. In Act III of A Doll’s House, Torvald shows his vulgar and subservient manner towards Nora by saying, “Oh, you think and talk like a stupid child,”(Act III 1123). A woman’s social expectations were to stay at home, and conceive the offspring. It was thought that women had to depend on men for everything. What ever the woman wanted to do, had to be approved by the male spouse. “Oh, I wish I’d inherited more of Papa’s qualities,” exemplifies Nora’s urge to become more powerful (Act I 1074). At that time, women’s status in society was a step below those of men.
Women could not vote, open their own bank account, or have a management position. In some extreme cases of the women’s low status, they were told to marry the man whom their parents told them to marry. Torvald depicts how men were thought to be higher than women are by claiming, “ . . . but no man can be expected to sacrifice his honor, even for the person he loves,”(Act III 1123).
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