A Dolls House – False appearances Mask Hidden Truths
Men, women, and the subject of bringing these two together through matrimony has always been the symbolically ideal partnership in the eyes of man throughout history. Within this partnership lie specific roles that deepen and revolve around gender. The problem with society’s definition of marriage can be detrimental when one tries to use the institution to conform to the general definition of marriage to our personal realities of human fragilities. This can lead to a shattered perception of self.
A DOLLS HOUSE OUTLINE
Due: March 12th 2012
From the moment, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen begins, we view a glimpse of how the character, Nora Helmer, sees herself and her fractured relationship to her husband. We also see the importance of appearances in their home and to the outside world. Underneath all of the bells and whistles is a complicated woman hiding from herself and others. This extremely clever, curiously insightful women is in need of unconditional love from her husband, Torvald Helmer. This play explores the perception of what makes people happy in intimate relationships and how people in these relationships can manufacture false appearances. Nora Helmer shows us how the artificial facade society creates through these strict traditional roles of marriage eventually provokes her quest for finding her true self and her humanity. Torvald, like most traditional males in the era that he was living in, subscribed to marriage ideals where women lived to serve and run the household. Women took care of the family’s needs and looked “as we put it today” like “a trophy wife”. Torvald treats his wife like a doll, he “need not be afraid to bump [her head], or drop [her] on the floor. [She] will not break as [her head] cannot be broken. [Her] hair and eyes are beautiful and [her] complexion indicates perfect health. [Torvald] would be happy [with this doll] to care for and educate. The face neck and shoulders are wax. The eyes are bright and beautiful” (Damon-Moore 53). This passage is from an ad posted in Magazines for the Millions by Damon - Moore from The Ladies Home Journal in the mid to late 1800’s. It parallels Torvalds’s views of his wife, Nora. She is his perfectly indestructible little doll to play with. The ordinary women of the period must be protected from the workday woes of the outside that could infect the “pure and spiritual sanctuary from [the] ugly world” (Davinson 35). The housewife "from her cradle to her grave...always half protected even against herself” (Davinson 34). In the beginning of the play, Nora says, “Hide the Christmas tree carefully, Helen. Make sure the children don’t see it till this evening, when it is decorated” (Ibsen 3). This sets the tone for Nora’s inner life. In Ibsen’s Heroines, “Upon [Nora’s] first appearance, she is laden with shrouded holiday parcels; surrounding her deepest conflicts and dreams are secret festivity and presents.” (Salome 42). There is a storm dormant inside Nora because of her sheltered upbringing. Her opinions are not valued because her father raised her in an era where women’s ideologies were never allowed to stand on their own. Nora was never challenged and her beliefs were never provoked. She did not know her worth. She was the perfect storm. Torvald never had the intention of marrying any woman for her deep and personal connection. He never wanted to understand her and worse yet he never really could. At the end of the play, when Torvald finds out the truth about Nora, his reaction not only shows how selfish and cowardly he is but it is typical of the time in which he is living when Nora’s secret is revealed and she confesses to Torvald “It is true. I have loved you above everything else in the world” (Ibsen 62). He then refutes back at Nora “Oh don’t let us have any silly excuses…Now you have destroyed all my happiness…And I shall sink to...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document