A “Doll’s house”, by Henrik Ibsen has set out some serious questions which must be taken into account before judging Nora’s character. Nora, being the main character in the play represents the “doll” that makes such trivial decisions, and giving us (the readers) the impression that she is immature. Many questions have been raised regarding the rights a woman should be given, but I would be particularly discussing my viewpoint on feminism, freedom and society. However, there are many other related questions which may also be of greater significance.
The first question which I found as a reader was “Would ‘The Doll’s House’ be considered as a feminist play”? I would rather call it ‘too feminist’ because it has been outlined in many ways. There are many examples in the play where Torvald treats Nora badly and insults her feminist nature, but this is not seen directly. For example, he calls her pet names such as ‘squirrel’ and ‘skylark’. He also uses the word ‘little’, a connotation showing her child-like nature that emphasizes the fact that she is fragile. Torvald always says this in a loving manner, but Nora does not realize until the end of the play that she has just been treated like an obedient pet. She also has no importance in the house; we see this when she hesitates to make trivial decisions. For example, she asks Torvald what she must wear and prepare for the ball. This is because her husband never talked to her like an adult, not letting her decide upon things and more importantly playing with her like his pet doll. At the end of the book, Torvald, says ‘that’s just like a woman’. Were women useless at that time? I personally believe that all individual has equal rights, or at least the opportunity to be independent. Torvald, like every other husband believed that all women were capable of doing nothing, but spending money which was why he called her a ‘spendthrift’.Order now
Another question raised by this play is: How does Nora’s character have an impact on the role of women? The role of women was self-sacrificial, mainly depending on their marital status. Married women were treated differently than single women. This is seen in many instances. However, Ibsen believes that all women must have equal rights and this statement has been highlighted appropriately. He thought marriage was a trap, and it could be seen through Nora’s character. Nora was a typical woman of the olden times who had all the characteristics of a doll until the end, when she realizes that she must consider growing up and create her own identity. Nora was her husband’s pet and he wanted her to stay just because he was concerned about his reputation.
We see this clearly when Nora says “you weren’t concerned about me but only what might happen to you- and when all danger was past, you acted as though nothing had happened”. Aren’t women allowed to be given individuality? Women were rather uneducated, hence not allowed to borrow money or take a loan; it was against the society’s norms. They needed the authority of the man who owned them; this also emphasizes the fact that it was a male dominant society. They were also restricted to stay at home; taking care of their children. Nora had identical roles to those of the women at that time. On the other hand, single woman like Miss linde had the opportunity to work but was forced to do low-paid and boring jobs.
My final question would be: Was it a “male dominant society?” Ibsen reflects this viewpoint in many ways, such as the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Helmer. In their little home, Torvald is the superior member, who makes all the decisions and keeps very little to Nora and not sharing serious talks. He treats her like his fancy doll, and is concerned about her “attractive appearance” rather than her happiness. He is merely living on the society’s conditions and wants to be respected. We also see this when he refuses to give Krogstad his job back; people would think he has been influenced by his wife. Although he had an argument with Nora, he wanted her to stay (after receiving the I.O.U) because he was worried that people might not respect him as mjch as before. But Nora learns to be independent from this experience, and realizes her self esteem needs. She knows that her life is restricted to being a wife and a mother in a male dominant society, which is why she leaves. Torvald does not even show love and attention when she leaves whereas he is concerned about his status. This is how Ibsen emphasizes the rights of a woman in a male dominant society.
Some readers might argue on the points that I have made on these questions, but it altogether outlines the conflicts of women at that time. Playwrights do not give very accurate answers, instead throws out such questions that have enlightened several readers.