Gender Roles of Society

Topics: Gender role, Gender, Woman Pages: 5 (1749 words) Published: February 21, 2007
Darwin once said "The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man's attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman." Darwin's professional assumption of the intelligence of women greatly exemplified the defining opinion of the day. The submissive role of the female in a marriage or relationship is a common problem in many societies, including our own American society. This male dominance goes as far back as the human race, to the beginning of relationships and marriage between the female and the male. Then, the physical prowess of the male led to his dominance in all situations and thus formed these roles. Even presently, with all our advances in equal rights and women's' advances in the work fields, this role of submission and passivity is still present among our society. Why hasn't it banished with the right to vote and her expansion into the male-dominated workplace? These roles are inbred into our society. The men are raised to lead and take charge. Women, on the other hand, are taught that their place is to keep peace, and in most scenarios that means conforming. There are many reasons women accept or allow this role. For many women, they find safety in allowing the male to dominate the relationship. The submissive role is familiar or so expected that the women fear changing the situation. At the time that Ibsen wrote "A Doll's House", the later 1800's, society has created a niche for the woman as a housewife and social partner, lacking emphasis on love. This controversial play features a female protagonist seeking her individuality through realizations and challenging her comfort zone. Ibsen, through Nora and her personality, depicts the role of women not as the usual comforter, helper, and supporter of man, but introduced woman as having her own purposes and goals. The heroine, Nora, progresses during the course of the play eventually to realize that she must discontinue the role of a doll and seek out her individuality. Throughout the play Nora is looked down upon and treated as a possession by her husband. She is something to please him and used for show. He is looked upon as the provider and the decision maker: HELMER [smiling]. Yes, it is indeed—that is, if only you really could hold on to the money I gave you, and really did buy something for yourself with it. But it just gets mixed up with the housekeeping and frittered away on all sorts of useless things, and then I have to dig into my pocket all over again. NORA. Oh but, Torvald…

HELMER. You can't deny it, Nora dear. [Puts his arm around her waist.] My pretty little pet is very sweet, but it runs away with an awful lot of money. It's incredible how expensive it is for a man to keep such a pet. ( Pro. 859,860) Society would have deemed it a perfect marriage. Ibsen is critical of the fact that a marriage lacked love and understanding, as shown by Torvald becoming angry with Nora for taking the loan and saving him, would be consider as perfect. A Doll's House's central theme of secession from society was made to be critical of society's view on women and marriage. Ibsen used Nora's secessions as an example to illustrate that society's expectations of a woman's role in society and marriage were incorrect. Ibsen uses Nora's traits to bluntly portray the women in society as in a position of needed change. Her first encounter with rules outside of her doll's house results in the realization of her inexperience with the real world due to her subordinate role in society and Ibsen sparks the thought of change. A Doll's House is also a prediction of change from this subordinate roll. Ibsen foreshadows as well as promotes the change women will eventually make to progress and understand their position. She needs to be more of a role model for her children. It was seen that Nora didn't think she...

Cited: and Resources
Haeberle, Erwin. "The Sex Atlas". New York: The Continum Publishing Company, 1983.
Harrison, Cynthia. "The Changing Role of Women in American Society." U.S. Society and Values 2 (1997): 10-12
Ibsen, Henrik. "A Doll 's House." Exploring Literature. 3rd ed. Ed. Frank Madden. New York: Longman, 2007. 856-914
Spykerman, Sarah. "Gender Roles and Work: Recent Research". Hope College Library. 30 September 1997.
Zvonkovic, Anisa M. "The marital construction of gender through work and family decisions: A qualitative analysis." Journal of Marriage and the Family 58 (1996): 91-100
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