Women were valued very little by nineteenth century society. The treatment of these women was also extremely negative; they were stereotypical housewives, expected to stay home and fulfill domestic duties. Literature of this time embodies and mirrors social issues of women in society. Henrik Ibsen uses Nora Helmer in "A Doll's House" to portray the negative treatment of all women throughout society during the nineteenth century. In this play we see Nora begin as fragile, nieve creature and progress to an individual, independent woman.
Written during the Victorian era, the controversial play featuring a female protagonist seeking individuality stirred up more controversy than any of his other works. In contrast to many dramas of Scandinavia in that time which depicted the role of women as the comforter, helper, and supporter of man, "A Doll's House" introduced woman as having her own purposes and goals. The heroine, Nora Helmer, progresses during the course of the play eventually to realize that she must discontinue the role of a doll and seek out her individuality. From the very first lines of the play, we notice the status quo between Torvald and Nora. Torvald is the stereotypically strong, dignified husband while Nora is "little skylark twittering" (Hurt and Wilke 1327). Torvald's continual reference to Nora using bird names parallels Nora's image of herself. For example, in the first act, Torvald continually refers to Nora as his "little featherbrain," his "little scatterbrain," his "squirrel sulking", and most importantly his "song bird." These images of weak birds characterize Nora as a weak person. The simple twittering, little birds we see every day are very susceptible to cold weather and to dying and so is Nora. The image of a "little featherbrain" and a "little scatterbrain" indicate stupidity. Nora can't think for herself because her thoughts are scattered and unorganized. Clement Scott describes the initial image of Nora as that of "a doll wife who...
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