A Dolls House - the Role of Women in Norwegian Culture

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A Dolls House - the Role of Women in Norwegian Culture

By | November 2010
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The role of women in Norwegian culture has been changing rapidly since the mid 1800s. Progress towards gender equality has been slow and challenging as Norwegian culture is very gender- based. Men have always been expected to be the providers and up until the mid 1800s a woman’s role was in the home; girls were married off and became the housekeepers and the center of the family. (Norwegian Natl. Commission 5) However with the beginning of the industrialization of Norway, this role was greatly undermined. Since the mid 1800s, Norwegian women have endured a rollercoaster of liberty and repression ultimately ending up with gender equality in the early 1980s. (Norweigan Natl. Commission 9) Industrialization in Norway resulted in the formation of the middle class and a shift to a consumer culture. Women no longer had as many household responsibilities and were eventually left only with producing children. (Norwegian Natl. Commission 3) Henrik Ibsensen’s A Doll’s House accurately portrays a woman living a middle class life in Norway ca . 1879. The main character, Nora Helmer, lives a monotonous life in which she is treated like a child , eventually she realizes that she has the right to be an independent person and leaves her husband and family. As a result of their reduced roles, women all over Norway were treated very much like Nora. In fact, the play was considered controversial as Norwegians could not even imagine that a middle class woman could be an independent person. (Ibsen, 851) However, not all women are doomed to the sad lives of Nora. Ultimately, the lower class that was looked down upon by women like Nora was their salvation from their “doll houses”. Many middle class women had to go to work to supplement their husband’s incomes. This made them more involved in decision-making within the family and put women out in the world. (Norwegian Natl. Commission 14) Women’s participation in the work force increased until it peaked in 1890. From then on...

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