Ma Eng

Topics: Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, Sociology Pages: 7 (2615 words) Published: September 17, 2013
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A Doll's House - A Discourse on Feminism
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“For all these years, for eight years now, you’ve been my pride and joy, and now I find you’re a hypocrite and a liar, and worse, worse than that…a criminal! The whole thing is an abyss of ugliness! You ought to be ashamed.” -------------------------------------------------

“I believe that before anything else, I’m a human being, just as much of as you are…or at least I’m going to try to turn myself into one,” -------------------------------------------------
“Poor little frightened songbird…Rest assured; my wings are broad enough to shelter you. How lovely and secure our home, Nora. A sanctuary for you. I’ll keep you here like a hunted dove I’ve rescued unhurt from the hawk’s talons. …For a man there’s something intensely reassuring and pleasurable about knowing that he’s forgiven his wife—and that he’s forgiven her sincerely, with all his heart. It’s as if she becomes somehow doubly his possession, as if he’s allowed her to be reborn, so that in some way she becomes both his wife and his child.” Moreover, Mary Wollstonecraft stresses that man tries to secure the good conduct of a woman by reducing her to a state of innocence and childhood. She states, “Children, I grant, should be innocent; but when the epithet is applied to men, or women, it is but a civil term of weakness.” This is very evident in Torvald’s treating Nora as a child. He forbids her to eat macaroons; he makes her dance for him, dress up and recite for him. On the other hand, not only Nora is treated as a spoiled child but also as a sexual object that her husband fantasizes about. At parties, he keeps away and steals glances at her eventually pretending that they’re secretly engaged. When it’s time to go, he puts her shawl around her shoulders and pretends that she is his young bride. He fantasizes that they are just arriving from their wedding and are alone for the first time together. He is so possessive about her to the extent that he refuses to share Nora with female friends, like Mrs. Linde. Here, Nora becomes what Michel Foucault calls a docile body regulated by the norms of cultural life. -------------------------------------------------

“When I lived at home with Daddy, he fed me all his opinions, until they became my opinions. Or if they didn’t, I kept quiet about it because I knew he wouldn’t have liked it. He used to call me his doll-child, and he played with me the way I used to play with my dolls. And when… Daddy handed me over to you. You arranged everything according to your taste, and I adapted my taste to yours… Now, looking back, I feel as if I’ve lived a beggar’s life—from hand to mouth.” -------------------------------------------------

A Doll’s House is a revolutionary play that exposes the defects of the Victorian patriarchal society. It is the triumph of the woman over all hindrances whether social, masculine, or economic. Once I finished reading the play, I was left in a reflective state. I thought about the universality of the woman figure portrayed in Ibsen’s play. Now, about 130 years after the publication of A Doll’s House, many women still face the same circumstances that Nora faced. For instance, today’s women working in the same capacity as men make about 72 cents compared to a dollar for men. Additionally, many women face discrimination in the workplace and in life in general. Many professions remain dominated by men in a day when women are more than capable of physically handling the job. Despite all their social, political, and career advancement, some women still feel emotionally crippled as their destinies are tied to that of the patriarchal society. The rise in the number of women suffering from anorexia and bulimia nowadays is an evidence of the emotional oppression that women are subjected to. Susan Bordo believes...
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