The Transformation of a Woman
In Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House, the character of Nora Helmer is a woman who undergoes a profound life revelation that results in her becoming a woman with a belief structure and understanding of self that is far ahead of her time. At the beginning of the play, Nora thinks as a woman of her era; her identity is formed as her father’s daughter and continued as a wife to Torvald Helmer. At the end of the play Nora “discovers her individuality then walks out on her husband” (Ramsden). A primary theme of the play is that Nora is a doll that is living in a doll’s house. (Alexander 381--390) The entire play is set in one room of the Helmer household. This reinforces the sense that Nora is confined to a very narrow existence, trapped in domestic comfort. The setting also reinforces the theme that women are perceived according to their roles in marriage and motherhood. (William, Robert and Kissell, Adam) As a girl Nora is a reflection of her father, allowed no independent thought. (Alexander 381--390) As Nora tells her husband, “When I was at home with papa, he told me his opinion about everything, and so I had the same opinions; and if I differed from him I concealed the fact, because he would not have liked it.” Nora’s says of her father, “He called me his doll-child, and he played with me just as I used to play with my dolls.” As a woman Nora becomes a reflection of her husband. Nora states to Helmer, “I was simply transferred from papa’s hands into yours.” She tells him, “You arranged everything according to your own taste, and so I got the same tastes as you—or else I pretended to, I am really not quite sure which—I think sometimes the one and sometimes the other.” This is a continuation of her in the expected subservient role of a woman. Helmer treats Nora as one would a child, or a doll. (Alexander 381--390) He speaks to her in a patronizing manner, calling her “my little lark...
Cited: Alexander, Paul C. "Building "A Doll 's House": A Feminist Analysis of Marital Debt Dischargability in Bankruptcy." Villanova Law Review 48 (2003): 381--390. Print.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll 's House. Ed. E. Haldeman-Julius. eBook #15492 ed. Web: The Project Gutenberg, 2005. Web. May 28, 2011
Lee, Josephine. "Teaching A Doll House, Rachel, and Marisol: Domestic Ideals, Possessive Individuals, and Modern Drama." Project Muse 50.4 (Winter 2007): 620--637. Print.
Moi, Toril. ""First and Foremost a Human being": Idealism, Theatre, and Gender in A Doll 's House1." Project Muse 49.3 (Fall 2006): 256--284. Print.
Ramsden, Timothy. "Servant Directs Others; Set Play." The Times Educational Supplement June, 4, 1999. Print.
William, Robert and Adam Kissell. "A Doll 's House Themes." Gradesaver (August 2002) Web. May 29, 2011
Transformation of a Woman
I wrote an analysis of Hendrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House. The purpose of the assignment was to expand my understanding of Ibsen’s work and the time in which the play was written, and of how to write a critique of a work of literature. A Doll’s House was written in 1879. Examining the play critically enabled me to gain an understanding of the type of work it was, and how the characters represented the people and the cultural trends of the era.
The exercise increased my ability to critically analyze a major work of literature. It helped me gain an understanding of the impact and origins of gender discrimination within society. One challenge was to understand the themes and symbolism hidden within the characters and the writing of the story. I also struggled with the proper structure of the paper and correctly representing the sources used. To overcome this, I learned and utilized the USF Library tool RefWorks, and the MLA Style of formatting. Additionally, I used the web to define a thesis statement and an exposition, and to research the elements of the play. These tools expanded my knowledge so that I was able to apply that learning to my critique.
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