A Doll's House Research Paper

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A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen, portrays a young married woman, Nora, who plays a dramatic role of deception and self-indulgence. The author creates a good understanding of a woman’s role by assuming Nora is an average housewife who does not work; her only job is to maintain the house and raise the children like a stereotypical woman that cannot work or help society. In reality, she is not an average housewife in that she has a hired maid who deals with the house and children. Although Ibsen focuses on these “housewife” attributes, Nora’s character is ambitious, naive, and somewhat cunning. She hides a dark secret from her husband that not only includes borrowing money, but also forgery. Nora’s choices were irrational; she handled the situations very poorly in this play by keeping everything a secret. The way that women were viewed in this time period created a barrier that she could not overcome. The decisions that had the potential to be good were otherwise molded into appalling ones. Women should have just as many rights as men and should not be discriminated by gender; but they should also accept consequences in the same way without a lesser or harsher punishment.

At the start of the play, Nora seems humble and responds positively to her husband’s humor and lightheartedness. “[smiling quietly and happily] ‘You haven’t any idea how many expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald.’ ‘You are an odd little soul. Very like your father. You always find some new way of wheedling money out of me,”… (Ibsen, pg.8). Ibsen’s view of human life was much tilted toward men in this play and he did a good job making the wife very doll-like in her husband’s eye. “She is to live for his sake only, to have no other thought than of him, no feelings, no opinions, save those which are his” (Jaeger, Henrik Bernhard. Henrik Ibsen: A Critical Biography. Benjamin Blom, inc., New York 1972, pg 240). She is excited about all the money that Torvald’s new job will bring in. It becomes almost an obsession for her throughout the entire play; money is involved in some sort of form or fashion in each act. This helps the reader know how money can alter and affect the balance of this family. Money can be replaced and should only have value in currency; while the appreciation for your family should be on a much higher scale. Nora loves her children, but pays little attention to them. She relies on the nanny to do most of the work. Her main focus is to obtain enough money to pay off her debt and, at the same time, enjoy the thrill of buying things.

Further into the play, Nora reveals a sinister secret, which burdens her life and uncovers a small pool of lies and deceit. “…To think of his learning my secret, which has been my joy and pride, in such an ugly, clumsy way—that he should not learn it from you!” (Ibsen, pg.37). In addition to choosing to lie to her husband about money and her secret rendezvous with Krogstad, she lies about macaroons, which does not even involve anyone but herself. Nora incurred a great amount of debt during that time period. The fact that she understands the details of money borrowing and forgery shows that she is clever and has abilities beyond her apparent feminism. This might be a rarity or maybe even naïve on the man’s part which would prove a weakness in their dominance. She sacrifices her life by breaking the law in order to save her husband’s life. This act takes a great amount of courage and charisma that goes way beyond her existence as a little doll-like housewife. “In such a marriage Nora cannot become a human being; she remains, and must remain, a mere doll” (Henrik Ibsen: A Critical Biography, Pg. 244). Even when Krogstad blackmails Nora and threatens her with things that would ruin everything she as woman has to offer, she undoubtedly does not change her mind. Torvald, her father, and even society, has a set standard Nora is expected to fill. This forces her to...
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