A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is a drama that became popular because of the truthful depiction of the typical 19th century issues faced by married couples. In particular, Henrik Ibsen reveals the inferior role of a female that stipulates the exclusion of a partnership. A common gender inequality of that time imposes on women a role of dependent subjects, dolls, who are deprived of the right to develop individualism and become accountable for own life choices. Henrik Ibsen succeeds in conveying the message about the adverse action of gender inequality on a marriage by stressing the commonness and, thus, indisputability, of this phenomenon.
Ibsen does not hyperbolize a female insignificance, instead, this notion is emphasized by unbiased description of interpersonal relations that describe gender inequality. In this regard, the voice of narration is routine; and it lacks emotions, –the effect that is achieved by the minimal use of the appropriate punctuation marks. Consider an example, Nora is believed to be shallow-minded. This idea is shared by her husband as well as by other men who knows her. Besides, submissiveness, dependence, and small-mindedness of Nora are stressed by her female friend. What is more, Nora’s self-esteem is low because it reflects the evaluation of others, which is manifested in her self-assessment. For instance, the main heroine confesses “I can’t hit upon anything that will do; everything I think of seems so silly and insignificant” (Ibsen, “A Doll’s House”). Her husband addresses this low self-assessment with affirmatively by asking “does my little Nora acknowledge that at last?” (Ibsen, “A Doll’s House”). Without a doubt, this reaction is insulting, but Ibsen purposefully depicts this dialog without exclamatory marks or other means that reveal condemnation or resentment that would be a natural reaction. In this way, the author accentuates the normality of discriminative attitude towards women of that time.
In addition, A Doll’s House depicts that both Nora’s domains, individual and social, inhibit the change from a dependency to independency. For example, analyzing this heroine’s personal characteristics, it becomes clear that she searches for the ways to stop being a doll, but her community raised a person who did not know how to be an independent woman. As a result, her inner attitudes make Nora believe that money brings freedom, but being unable to earn them she applies to various misconducts. Specifically, the main heroine fakes a signature of a dying father to receive money. Besides, Nora dreams of a rich admirer who can lend her money and, playing this role, she flirts with Dr. Rank in spite of knowing that he is seriously in love with her. Moreover, she asks her husband to borrow money for Christmas shopping refusing to realize that additional expenses are unaffordable. In a word, all Nora’s actions are directed towards obtaining more significance and freedom; however, this young woman has no idea how to accomplish her ambitions. Therefore, Nora’s unethical actions complicate her interpersonal relations.
To make matters worse, society continues to keep the cage of woman’s insignificance and inferiority. For instance, Nora totally depends on her husband; this female is perceived as a treasure, or a decoration, which implies that she is a subject rather than an object. Consider an example, the main heroine states that if she wears a nice dress she will look smart, which will please her husband, Torvald. In this way, a wife wants to be nice with her husband by doing what he wishes. Hence, in that time society, being subordinated to a husband is a rule rather than a favor. Therefore, her husband takes Nora’s approach for granted, Tovald asks “nice?–because you do as your husband wishes? Well, well, you little rogue, I am sure you did not mean it in that way” (Ibsen, “A Doll’s House”). Revealing how Nora’s individual and collective domains interact producing the same results of forcing her to remain a doll, Ibsen stresses that such conditions exclude the possibility of a partnership that is vital for harmonic family relations. Besides, individualism is necessary to achieving harmony with the external world; and the above-described examples imply that Nora, as well as her contemporaries, was deprived of such right.
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Moreover, the premise that women are dependent subjects is supported by the scene between the secondary characters, Krogstad and Mrs Linde. Once, they were in love, but Mrs Linde left her beloved because of financial difficulties. Offended with such deed, a man accuses her in being “a heartless woman jilts a man when a more lucrative chance turns up”(Ibsen, “A Doll’s House”). Hence, Mrs. Linde excuses telling “I had a helpless mother and two little brothers. We couldn’t wait for you, Nils; your prospects seemed hopeless then” (Ibsen, “A Doll’s House”). By this scene Ibsen constructs an implicit assumption that the best what a European woman of the 19th century could do was to get married and be obedient to her husband. The fact that this message is conveyed without irony, satyr, and exaggerations reinforces the notion of commonness and, thus, truthfulness of ‘a doll’s life’. Given this insight it is natural to deduce that Henrik Ibsen’s success is attracting attention to the gender inequality issue is predefined by the proper choice of literary devices.
Summing up the above-mentioned, it is appropriate to stress that Ibsen’s A Doll’s House highlights a significant social issue of gender inequality and its negative impact on a marriage. This message is conveyed by depicting the routine family relations that are affected by deeply rooted idea about woman’s shallowness and inferiority. This idea is reflected with the title because a submissive and dependent main heroine, Nora, is deprived of the right to make personal choices and perceived as a decoration and a subject that must entertain the owner. That is why, Nora’s house is ‘a doll’s house’. To convince the audience in Nora’s doll’s life, the author minimizes the emotions and does not include personal attitude towards the highlighted issue. Besides, Ibsen provides insight about the reasons why Nora and her husband are unable to change by depicting how the cultural attitude of gender inequality is manifested through the individual and collective self of the heroes.