doll house

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Social stratification Pages: 7 (2719 words) Published: September 21, 2014
In the realist drama “A Doll House”, Ibsen effectively employs dramatic conventions to expose the flawed value system of the bourgeoisie, regarding the institutions of marriage, prejudice gender roles and personal integrity. Moreover, the dramatic tension on the play is heightened through Ibsen’s subversion of the well-made play and the melodramatic denouement at the beginning of each act. In essence, Ibsen satirises the stifling moral climate of the bourgeoisie in conditioning an individual’s identity, in the pursuit for self-determinism. The imposition of prejudice gender roles are brought to life through the doll house metaphor, illuminating the entrapment of the bourgeoisie. Metaphorically, the doll house is a moral safeguard for values of social determinism, which Ibsen exposes the limitations of external forces in conditioning Nora’s existence as a doll. Her internalisation of the pre-determined housewife role and Torvald’s internalisation of the patriarch role maintains the illusory deception of the doll house. Nora’s objectification is enforced through Torvald’s gendered language, “my songbird”, “lark” and squirrel” and the diction of “my” connotes Torvald’s ownership of Nora in their superficial marriage. Simultaneously, Torvald’s strict adherence to patriarchal ideologies, limits his capacity to empathise with Nora’s cry for emancipation, evident in the subtext “give me pennies of my own”. Essentially, Ibsen successfully adopts the doll house metaphor to attack the mores of patriarchy, which forces Nora to compromise her identity and freedom to rigid social ideologies. The superficial institutions of marriage disfigure one’s sense of personal identity, justifying Nora’s cry for liberation from patriarchal ideologies which disempower women of her time. The combination of the stage direction “wagging his finger” and the patronising tone “was little Ms Sweet Tooth naughty?” showcases the detriments of social oppression in limiting one’s ability to undergo self-actualisation. The diction “little” connotes Nora’s submission to Torvald’s internalisation of dominant ideologies, mirroring the disempowerment of women in the bourgeoisie. Moreover, the symbolic Tarantella dress reflects Torvald’s idealised perception of Nora as his “pretty little thing”, reiterating Nora’s objectification. The power imbalance within the Helmer marriage justifies Nora’s deceit, evident in the dramatic irony “I wouldn’t do anything you’d disapprove of”. This notion is juxtaposed with Nora’s statement “I saved Torvald’s life [by] signing my father’s name [and] got the money”. Nora’s deception subverts Torvald’s strict adherence to the imposed social ideologies, which Kristine echoes these patriarchal sentiments, “a wife cannot borrow money without her husband’s permission”. The conflict of gender limitations drives the tragic force of the play in Act 1, ending at a climactic moment to heighten the tension in Act 2. In essence, Ibsen successfully generates a greater degree of empathy for Nora, as he mirrors the disempowerment of the social and economic limitations of women in the bourgeoisie. Ibsen’s rich exploration of the bourgeoisie, inevitably results in Nora’s detachment from her doll metaphor. Kristine and Krogstad function as catalysts for Nora’s transformation, through illuminating the truth of the Helmer marriage, “no more lies, tricks… they must understand each other”. While Krogstad initiates the tragic force of the play through his symbolic letter in Act 2. Ibsen establishes the juxtaposition of the authentic relationship of Krogstad and Kristine to the superficiality of the Helmer marriage, compelling Nora to transcend the limitations of the bourgeoisie. Moreover, the parallel of Nora and Krogstad subverts the values of social determinism, as Krogstad elevates himself through the social hierarchy despite being deemed “morally sick”. Essentially, an unexpected union of the two derives from a compromised understanding, as both...
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