A Doll House: a Feminist Approach to the Play by Henrik Ibsen

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A Doll House
A feminist approach to the play by Henrik Ibsen

The Feminist movement is an ongoing reaction against the male definition of woman. In most western civilizations men have dominated politics, society and the economy of their worlds. They have suppressed the voices of the women so that they could mold it the way they wanted it. Thus they defined what was feminine as insubstantial, subservient and devoid of will. Femininity was further emotion driven, illogical, naive and ought not be taught to be anything else. Feminism has been changing the world for more than a century and the new viewpoints it has brought give a new insight into literature. Feminist critics siphon the male perspective from a piece and look carefully at what the feminine aspects of the work are saying to the world. It is a way of showing the interweaving male and female influences in writing to make it function. In the play "A Doll House" this oppressive male presence manifests itself in the form of Torbald Helmer. He treats his wife as a child to be treated as a lesser being than he. He humbles and upbraids her every time he addresses her, trying to correct her into submitting entirely to him. Nora welcomes this attitude and in fact, uses it against her husband on more than one occasion. She tries to delay his reading of the note in the mailbox thus: Nora- "I can't get anywhere without your help. I've forgotten the whole thing completely." Helmer- "Ah, we'll soon take care of that."

Nora- "Yes, take care of me, Torbald, please! Promise me that? Oh, I'm so nervous. That big party- you must give up everything this evening for me. No business, don't even touch your pen. Yes dear Torbald, promise?

She plays his game to get him to play hers, but like the plight of the feminists, it did not work the way she had expected. The mindset that she had been given had lead her to believe that Torbald would take care of everything. He was the only thing she had been given to believe in...
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