The Transformation of a Woman
In Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House, the character of Nora Helmer is a woman who undergoes a profound life revelation that results in her becoming a woman with a belief structure and understanding of self that is far ahead of her time. At the beginning of the play, Nora thinks as a woman of her era; her identity is formed as her father’s daughter and continued as a wife to Torvald Helmer. At the end of the play Nora “discovers her individuality then walks out on her husband” (Ramsden). A primary theme of the play is that Nora is a doll that is living in a doll’s house. (Alexander 381--390) The entire play is set in one room of the Helmer household. This reinforces the sense that Nora is confined to a very narrow existence, trapped in domestic comfort. The setting also reinforces the theme that women are perceived according to their roles in marriage and motherhood. (William, Robert and Kissell, Adam) As a girl Nora is a reflection of her father, allowed no independent thought. (Alexander 381--390) As Nora tells her husband, “When I was at home with papa, he told me his opinion about everything, and so I had the same opinions; and if I differed from him I concealed the fact, because he would not have liked it.” Nora’s says of her father, “He called me his doll-child, and he played with me just as I used to play with my dolls.” As a woman Nora becomes a reflection of her husband. Nora states to Helmer, “I was simply transferred from papa’s hands into yours.” She tells him, “You arranged everything according to your own taste, and so I got the same tastes as you—or else I pretended to, I am really not quite sure which—I think sometimes the one and sometimes the other.” This is a continuation of her in the expected subservient role of a woman. Helmer treats Nora as one would a child, or a doll. (Alexander 381--390) He speaks to her in a patronizing manner, calling her “my little lark...
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