Breaking the Mold
The pressure to conform to an ideal image is a reoccurring theme throughout literature and even in our culture today. In the highly repressive social climate of the Victorian Era, women, much like children, were seen rather than heard. The ideal Victorian woman is hardly descriptive of Nora in Henrik Ibson’s A Doll House. Through careful observation and questioning, Nora recognizes the injustice of the male-dominated society in which she lives. Nora’s discomposure with as her begin treated as her husband Torvald’s subordinate, her realization of Torvald’s true character, and her desire to educate herself prompt her to become independent. The most important choice that Nora makes is to leave Torvald Helmer, because this choice is facilitates Nora’s personal growth. Nora’s choice to leave Torvald Helmer is influenced by her increasing discontent with his condescending, doll-like treatment of her. Torvald establishes his dominance by calling Nora his “little lark” among other pet names. Torvald’s authority over Nora requires her to “dress up” in a costume, becoming what Torvald expects her to be. As Torvald’s subordinate, Nora fluidly bends and twists to his needs, conforming to his desires. Although Nora would like to be treated as an equal to Torvald, she knows him well enough to realize that equality is impossible in their marriage. In order for the marriage to function, Nora has to appeal to Torvald’s ego by flattering him to ask for money and rendering herself helpless in accomplishing the simplest tasks such as choosing a dress. Small acts of disobedience on Nora’s part are the primary indicator of the growing weight of the façade that Torvald imposes on her. Eating macaroons and saying “to hell and be damned” are two ways in which Nora chips at the mold of behavior that Torvald sets for her. Nora’s outgrowing of the costume Torvald idealizes is marked by actions such as Nora’s remark that she would like to “rip it into a million tiny...
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