Theme Of A Doll
’s House Essay, Research Paper
Henrik Ibsen’s, A Doll’s House is definitely a unique story written by a very intelligent, complicated writer. I believe he intentionally wrote the play in a manner which would lead every reader to draw his own conclusions. He forces us to find our own interpretation of the play in context with our personal lives and experiences with the opposite sex. The theme may be interpreted by many as a study of the moral laws that men and women are required to follow by nature. I believe it is primarily based on the gender stereotypes that determine the role of women in society.
During the time in which the play took place, society frowned upon women asserting themselves. Women were expected to play a role in which they supported their husbands, took care of their children, and made sure the house was in perfect order. In Act I, there are many clues that hint at the kind of marriage Nora and Torvald have. It seems that Nora is like a doll controlled by Torvald. She relies on him for everything, from her movements to thoughts, much like a puppet who is dependent on its puppet master for all of its actions. In the beginning of the play, Nora did enact the stereotypical role, which she felt she was required to do. In once instance, Torvald feels that he must reteach Nora how to dance the tarantella. Nora of course pretends that she needs him to teach her every move in order to relearn the dance. In truth, this is an act and proves her submissiveness to her husband. Once he is finished teaching her the dance he proclaims, “When I saw you turn and sway in the tarantella, my blood was pounding till I couldn’t stand it” showing that he is more interested in Nora physically than emotionally. Nora responds to his remark saying, “Go away, Torvald! Leave me alone. I don’t want all this.” Torvald asks, “Aren’t I your husband?” implying that one of Nora’s duties as his wife is to physically please him at his command.
Torvald also does not trust Nora with money, which exemplifies Torvald’s treating Nora as a child. On the rare occasion when Torvald gives Nora some money, he is concerned that she will waste it on candy and pastry. In general, Nora’s duties are
restricted to playing with the children, doing little housework, and working on her needlepoint. A problem with her responsibilities is that her most important obligation is to please Torvald, making her role similar to that of a slave. Torvald easily talks down to Nora saying things like: “…worries that you couldn’t possible help me with”, “Nora, Nora, just like a woman”, and “Mayn’t I look at my dearest treasure? At all the beauty that belongs to no one but me—that’s my very own?” as if she is considered his property.
However, Nora does eventually realize that she has been treated like a child all her life and has been denied the right to think and act the way she wishes. When Torvald does not immediately offer to help Nora after Krogstad threatens to expose her, Nora realizes that there is a problem. By waiting until after he discovers that his social status will suffer no harm, Torvald reveals his true feelings; that place appearance, both social and physical, before the wife which he supposedly loves. This revelation is what prompts Nora to walk out on Torvald. When Torvald tries to reconcile with Nora, she explains to him how she had been treated like a child all her life; her father had treated her much the same way Torvald does. Both male superiority figures not only denied her the right to think and act the way she wished, but limited her happiness. Nora describes her feelings as “always merry, never happy.” When Nora finally slams the door and leaves, she is not only slamming it on Torvald, but also on everything else that has happened in her past which curtailed her growth into a mature woman