English Comp. II
March 23, 2015
Life Changing Decisions
Many women in modern society make life altering decisions on a daily basis. Women today have prestigious and powerful careers unlike in earlier eras. It is more common for women to be full time employees than homemakers. In 1879, when Henrik Ibsen wrote “A Doll's House”, there was great controversy over the outcome of the play. Nora’s walking out on her husband and children was appalling to many audiences centuries ago. Divorce was unspoken, and a very uncommon occurrence. As years go by, society’s opinions on family situations change. No longer do women have a “housewife” reputation to live by and there are all types of family situations. After many years of emotional neglect, and overwhelming control, Nora finds herself leaving her family. Today, it could be said that Nora’s decision to leave her husband is very rational and well overdue.
In Ibsen's "A Doll's House", there are many clues that hint at the kind of marriage Nora and Torvald have. It seems that Nora is a type of doll that is controlled by Torvald, and Nora is completely dependent on him. His thoughts and movements are her thoughts and movements. Nora is a puppet who is dependent on its puppet master for all of its actions. The most obvious example of Torvald's physical control over Nora can be seen in his teaching of the tarantella. Nora pretends that she needs Torvald to teach her every move in order to relearn the dance. The reader knows that this is an act, but it still shows her complete submissiveness to Torvald. After he teaches her the dance, he says, “When you were dancing the tarantella, chasing inviting—my blood was on fire” (Ibsen II. 445), but she quickly shows that it is not her own choice by pleading “Please! I don’t want all this” (II. 447). This shows that Torvald is more interested in Nora physically than emotionally. He feels that it is one of Nora's main duties as his wife to physically pleasure him at his command. Torvald is not only demanding mentally and physically, but also financially. He does not trust Nora with money. He feels that she is incapable and too immature to handle a matter of such importance. Torvald sees Nora as a child. She is forever referred to as his little "sparrow" or "squirrel". On the rare occasion that Torvald does give Nora some money, he worries that she will waste it on candy, pastry or something else of Childish and useless value. He shows his concern for his money when he ask Nora if is his “little spendthrift [has] been wasting money again” (I. 11). Nora's duties, in general, are restricted to caring for the children, doing housework, and working on her needlepoint. But overall, Nora's most important responsibility is to please he husband Torvald. This makes her role similar to that of a slave. The problem in "A Doll's House" does not lie with Torvald alone. Though he does not help the situation, he is a product of his society. In his society, females were confined in every way imaginable. Everything that women did had to have their husband's approval, whether it delt with money, business, or anything else of significance. At times, they could not even speak their true thoughts or feelings without a harsh reprimanding. In this society, wives were to be seen and not heard. Throughout the drama, Nora keeps referring to "the wonderful." This "wonderful" is what Nora expects to happen after Krogstad reveals the truth of her forgery of her father’s signature. She expects Torvald to stick up for her and offer to take the blame for the crime upon himself. She feels that this will be the true test of his love and devotion. However, Torvald does not offer to help Nora, in fact, he belittles her by saying “you may have ruined all my happiness. My whole future—that’s what you have destroyed” (III. 451). This is where Torvald makes his grave mistake. Nora realizes that Torvald places both...
Cited: Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House”. The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Fifth Edition. Ed. Michael Meyer. Pg. 1483-1542. Print.
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