A Doll's House: Defending Nora's Exit

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Elizabeth Horner
THE 2300.A02
“A Doll’s House” Henrik Ibsen
The door slam at the end of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” had been said to echo around the world. Nora leaving her husband was practically unheard of when this play was written in 1879, and it can be argued that this was a catalyst for the women’s rights movement. “A woman cannot be herself in the society of present day, which is an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with a judicial system that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of view.” (Ibsen. 426) This was quite a progressive observation from Ibsen himself, it actually sounds more like a quote from the 1960s than the late 1870s. At that time it was more socially accepted that male-dominated society was the only way for society to be, the only way that was known. People were not yet thinking that men and women should be equal in a marriage, or that women should be equal to a man in any way. In the late 19th Century, very few women owned property, or had any assets of their own. Most women were not in involved in or even had knowledge of the women’s rights movement. “Ibsen’s ‘Notes for the Modern Tragedy’ is remarkable for suggesting a separate sensibility (spiritual law) for men and women.” (Jacobus. 426) This line of thought was extremely radical in the late 1800s, and most people were not on board. Pioneers like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton began the suffrage movement in America in the 1880s, and yet women were not legally granted the right to vote until 1920. Ibsen’s influence was strong, but it took a while for him to be heard. “But his influence was not felt until the early decades of the twentieth century, when other writers were able to spread the revolutionary doctrine that was implied in realism as practiced by Ibsen…” (Jacobus. 393) The woman’s rights movement has come very far, but it has been a slow process over a long period of time. Even in the 21st Century, women...
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