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Dolls House Essay, Research Paper

A play serves as the author’s tool for critiquing society. One rarely encounters the ability to transcend accepted social beliefs. The play reflects controversial issues that the audience can relate to because they interact in the same situations every day. As late nineteenth century playwright, Henrick Ibsen points out the flaws of mankind and also provides an answer to the controversy. Unknowingly the heroine solves the problem at the end of the play and indirectly sends a message to the audience on how to solve their own problems. Henrik Ibsen provides a unique analysis on the issues that his culture never thought as being wrong. In the play ?A Doll’s House?, Ibsen tackles women’s rights as a matter of importance being neglected. In his play he acknowledges the fact that in nineteenth century European life the role of the women was to stay home, raise the children, and attend to her husband. The aforementioned problem is solved through the playwright?s recommendations and the actions of the characters. In the play ?A Doll’s House?, the author uses realism to present a problem and solution to controversial societal issues.

While ?A Doll?s House? mainly concentrates on the negative aspects of culture, there are positive facets explored by Ibsen. Ibsen focuses on the lack of power and authority given to women, but through Nora demonstrates the strength and willpower masked by her husband Torvald. To save her husband’s life Nora secretly forges her father’s signature and receives a loan to finance a trip to Italy. Nora’s naivet? of the law puts her in a situation that questions her morality and dedication. Nora is not aware that under the law she is a criminal. She believes that her forgery is justified through her motive. She is not a criminal like Krogstad, because his crime was simply a moral failing and not for the good of his family. A morally unjustified crime is the only type of crime. Nora’s believes that her love for her husband is what propelled her to sign her father’s name and pass it off as his own. Nora’s motive is to save her husband’s life and keeping it secret is to save him from pain and humiliation. If he knew, it would hurt his “manly independence” (p. 22) and upset Nora and Torvald’s “mutual relations” (p.22). Nora knows that without forging her father’s signature she would not be able to save her husband. Nora uses her wit to find a way to be able to overcome the shackles placed on her by society and get enough money to save Torvald’s life.

The sacrifices made by Nora are far outweighed by the actions of her counterparts. Torvald sees Nora’s only role as being the subservient and loving wife. He refers to Nora as “my little squirrel” (Ibsen p.12), “song-bird” (p. 33) or “skylark” (p. 40). To him, she is only a possession. Torvald calls Nora by pet-names and speaks down to her because he thinks that she is not intelligent and that she can not think on her own. Whenever she begins to voice an opinion Torvald quickly drops the pet-names and insults her as a women. When Nora asks if he can reinstate Krogstad at the bank he claims that she only asks because she fears that he will suffer the same fate as her father. Nora realizes that living with Torvald prevents her from being a real person. He treats her as a doll because that is what he wants. He does not want a wife who will challenge him with her own thoughts and actions. The final confrontation between the couple involves more oppression by Torvald, but by this time Nora has realized the situation he wishes to maintain. Torvald calls her “childish” (p. 70) and “ungrateful” (p. 68) even though she saved his life. Nora expected Torvald to be grateful to her, when this does not happen she decides that the only way to fix the situation is to leave him and her children and find herself independently. Nora wants Torvald to take the blame for the forgery and realize that how he treats her is not the way a husband should treat his wife. When he doesn’t take the blame she knows that independence is the only answer and so she leaves. The oppression of women caused many women to believe that their duty in life was only to be a wife. Ibsen provides a narrative on one woman’s plight to find her purpose in life.

In presenting this problem, Ibsen ends his play with a solution to the characters’ unhappiness. Ibsen was the first author in Europe to tackle the issue of women’s place in the world and label it as wrong. Nora’s realization of Torvald’s part in her misery allows her to leave him. She does not fully blame Torvald for her unhappiness, but she knows that she can’t be happy with him. Her expectation of “the most wonderful thing” (Ibsen p. 72) leaves her with the knowledge that Torvald will never change. Nora becomes cognizant of the mistreatment she has endured, and consequently leaves to become someone different. Ibsen encourages women to make a change by taking action and not to watch their life pass by unfulfillingly. Nora becomes a role model for change.

In A Doll’s House the audience gathers a picture of what it was like to live in the late eighteen hundreds. This picture is not a positive one. More wrongs are committed against the characters of this play than any sort of reward for the hardships they endure. This play reflects an accurate representation of the society that existed when it was written. Nora finds that she is trapped in a world that she does not belong in. Nora finds a way out. Society oppressed Nora and her family by masking the truth of their lives for so long. Ibsen contributes to the solution by providing his play as an example of why Europe was wrong.


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