A Doll's House Essay

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Daren Foreman
Mr. Koger
Humanities

Society’s Role for Females

Women have been oppressed in many ways since the beginning of civilization. Men have argued that, biologically, women are inferior to men whose only purposes are to produce offspring, given their smaller brains and wider hips. Women are oppressed in the work force, where they are forced to do a majority of the manual labor for little to no pay. Even at home, women are expected to stay and both clean the house and take care of the children. In Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, the oppression of women is explored in detail through the main character Nora Helmer, who is heavily oppressed by the men in her life. Nora is a definitive example of the role any common female was expected to play, that of the loyal daughter or the doting and obedient wife, during the Victorian era. Acting as a foil, however, is Nora’s friend Kristine Linde, who has been forced to fend for herself and find herself as a self aware and resourceful woman. By comparing the two, Ibsen successfully displays how counterintuitive oppression can be to any woman, in this case Nora under both her husband Torvald and her father, against how liberating freedom is and what a women is entitled to be, strong willed, independent, and, most importantly, equal, shown through Kristine Linde.

Given their different situations, Nora and Kristine foil each other and display to the audience two different types of women at the time. When the play begins, Nora is the doting wife to Torvald, who bosses her around and berates her by referring to her as “his little singing bird”. Although the nickname may seem meaningless to Nora, it is actually empowering to Torvald. By enabling Torvald to call her that, Nora once again perpetuates the gender roles society has placed on the two of them: Torvald is the dominant male whereas Nora is the subservient female. This specific example is also a metaphor. Although Nora thinks it is a cutesy nickname, it...
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