Freedom Through Independence of Will
In A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen focuses on the importance of women's roles and freedom in society. Widely regarded as a feminist paean, the play features two major female characters; the most prominent of whom, Nora Helmer, shatters her position as a subservient, doll-like female when she walks out on her husband and children with a flagrant "door slam heard round the world." Nora’s evolution, though inspiring, should not overshadow another crucial woman in the play: Mrs. Kristine Linde. Both women attain freedom in a society dominated by the adherence to conservative marital roles, but do it in different ways. While Nora reaches her consciousness and slams the door on her shackling domicile, Mrs. Linde opens the door to the possibility of domesticism as an independent, enlightened woman. Through this, Ibsen suggests that true freedom lies not in an independent life, but rather, in an independent will.
From the moment she enters the play, Mrs. Linde is presented as an antithesis to Nora’s seemingly childish and frivolous nature. She is weary, aged, and mature, looking and feeling “much, much older” (Ibsen 7). Nora, on the other hand, is dainty and whimsical. She is a “pretty little skylark” who hums around and indulges in whatever she fancies (Ibsen 4). While Nora has lived sheltered and well off in both her childhood and her adult life with Torvald, Mrs. Linde has faced hardship and loss throughout her entire life. For eight years, Nora is happily married and has three lovely children; forced to abandon the man she loved to marry one who could support her family financially, Mrs. Linde’s sacrifices leave her a “bitter,” “empty” widow with little money and “no one to live for” (Ibsen 11). These physical and circumstantial differences presented between the two women are illusions that are shattered later on in the text. Though Nora and Mrs. Linde come from differing backgrounds, both unify in their place as women...
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