“No; only merry. And you have always been so kind to me. But our house has been nothing but a playroom. Here I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I used to be papa’s doll-child. And the children, in their turn, have been my dolls. I thought it fun when you played with me, just as the children did when I played with them. That has been our marriage, Torvald. ” In order to attain adulthood Nora must leave this existence behind. Without the audience of the times understanding of this it is acceptable that the play was not as well received by some.Order now
Therefore I believe that the real question maybe; Were the people who thought the play controversial behind the times? I will further investigate the plot of A Doll’s House to determine this. In the first two acts of the play we as the audience see that the role of Torvald’s “little skylark” and “squirrel” is one in which he enforces onto her and which she self-consciously plays. This is emphasized with the lines spoken by Nora. “I would never dream of doing anything you didn’t wasn’t me to; “I never get anywhere without your help”.
These lines appear highly ironic in view of the revelation that she forged her fathers signature in order to secure a loan from Krogstad to save Torvald’s life and that she has done, for example, secret copying work in an attempt to pay off the loan. These actions show the audience that Nora is indeed capable and willing to help herself and Torvald without his intervention. 5 Ultimately A Doll’s House focuses on the way that women are seen, especially in the context of marriage and motherhood.
Torvald in particular has a very clear and narrow definition of a woman’s role. He believes that it is the sacred duty of a woman to be a good wife and mother. He tells Nora that women are responsible for the morality of their children. In essence he sees women as child-like helpless creatures detached from reality and influential moral forces responsible for the purity of the world through their influence in the home. The perception of manliness is also discussed, though in a much more subtle way.
Nora’s description of Torvald suggests that she is partially aware of the lies inherent in the male role as much as that of the female. Torvald’s conception of manliness is based on the value of total independence. He abhors the idea of financial or moral dependence on anyone. His desire for independence leads to the question of whether he is out of touch with reality and behind the times. Tied to the discussion of men and women are the frequent references to Nora’s father. Throughout the play, there are references to Nora’s father.
Nora is frequently equated with him from her actions. Quotations like the one below suggest that Nora does wish that she were like her father and, taking that further, male. Her desire suggests a deeper understanding of the confinement she faces than might otherwise be apparent. “Ah, I wish I had inherited many of Papa’s qualities” My overall conclusion is that Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House contained themes and ideas and observations that were just coming into being at in the late 1800’s. These ideas were most certainly ahead of their time as they still apply today.
However it is important to realise that Ibsen was writing for a specific audience and for a set time. He did not intend his play to be a domineering factor in women’s liberation. Ibsen could have been simply reporting what was happening socially at that time and bringing the ideas to a wider audience. Therefore I would like to state that Ibsen might not have consciously decided he wanted to express ideas ahead of their time but considering the play is still heralded as a feminist success; I believe that the play has timeless ideas that we as a society need to address.
1 Ibsen, Speeches and the New Letters trans. Arne Kildal, (1909;New York, 1972), P. 65. 2 Joan Templeton, “The Doll house backlash”: Criticism, Feminism, and Ibsen, P . 104. , (1989) 3 The Correspondence of Henrik Ibsen, ed. Mary Morrison (New York, 1970), P. 365, 423-424. 4 Translated and quoted by Katherine Hanson, “Ibsen’s Women Characters and Their Feminist Contemporaries, Theatre History Studies, (1982), P. 868. 5 Lester. Elenore, ” Ibsen’s Unliberated Heroines”, The Centennial Review, 18, (1974), P. 91-108.