The Road To Independence Essay, Research Paper
The Road To Independence
As an individual grows, he or she is molded by the actions of the parents or parental figure that is present in the home. In Henrick Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House Ibsen created Nora who is a victim of her upbringing and male dominance. What is responsible for Nora’s attitude toward life and her acceptance of a commanding mate? Nora has been emotionally controlled her entire life, and she does not know true love. It is only natural for her to grasp for emotional freedom and rebel against all which stands in her way. Throughout her life, Nora’s actions and attitudes portray her as a very unhappy woman. By analyzing Nora’s treatment by her father, her marriage to Torvald, and the Victorian time period in which they lived, and process of events which lead to her final decision to leave the family may justify her supposed abandonment of her family.
Daughters have a special place in their life for their father. This is not different for Nora and her feelings toward her father. Nora’s father is a very controlling parent. Growing up, she was restricted in her actions and dialog. As she grew to the age of marriage, because of her upbringing she knew nothing of the outside world. The only man she had been accustomed to was her father, which led her to believe every decision her father made was correct. Nora’s attitude toward males and her perception of society were very similar from other woman of the time. It was common during the Victorian time period for the male figures in a home to act as the dominating role in the family. The man made the decisions for the family, and the other family members were to follow. Alike most women of the time who had a na ve outlook toward life, Nora went along with the norm of society. Although she did not agree with how her father treated her, she did not rebel against him because she did not know where to turn or what to do. Nora was taught not to express her emotions or speak unless it was something charming and refined. Whenever a confrontational situation arose, she was clueless in how to handle herself.
Instead of a precious marriage full of love and commitment, Nora married Torvald, a man who mirrored her father in every aspect. Torvald took Nora’s father’s role, leaving Nora with no independence of her own (Hurt 438). Nora was bound to be seen and treated as a child her entire life. Her first home was with her father. There she was trapped inside of a world, where she was treated as an object. She was treated as a doll. Although she eventually grew old enough to leave her home and father’s mistreatment, she walked into an identical home when she married Torvald (Hurt 437). Torvald took full advantage of the situation while they were married.
Torvald convinced Nora her would not treat her as her father did. He claimed to be the complete opposite of her father. Throughout Nora and Torvald’s relationship, Torvald remains confident that he is the complete opposite of Nora’s father. Torvald is blind to his own actions and instead scolds Nora for being exactly like her father. Torvald explodes one day and shouts:
I ought to have guessed something of this sort would happen. I should
have forseen it. All your father’s recklessness and instability he has handed to you. No religion, no morals, no sense of duty! Oh, how I have been punished for closing my eyes to his faults! I did it for your sake ” (Ibsen 425).
After Torvald’s outburst, Nora begins to be more aware of his actions and behaviors, especially the similarities between the two men.
Torvald treats Nora as a child and wishes to keep her as an object rather than an equal mate. He uses the “lark and squirrel” games to keep himself sexually aroused over the years (Hurt 438). During Act 3, Torvald explains to Nora why they never associate while at the party. Torvald explains his fantasy:
I pretend to myself you’re my secret mistress, my clandestine little sweetheart, and that nobody knows there’s anything at all between us I pretend to myself that you are my young bride, that we’ve just come from the wedding, that I’m taking you to my house for the first time-that, for the first time, I am alone with you-quite alone with you, as you stand there young and trembling and beautiful. (Ibsen 421)
Torvald treats Nora as if she has no sense about her soul purpose in life, and that it is only being pretty. To Torvald she is only a doll, to dress up and show off. Nora was given no responsibility while growing up and cannot handle stress. As the play progresses Nora is faced with Torvald’s illness. She is forced to take desperate measures to make sure he becomes healthy. By taking out a loan, which was unheard of by a woman during that time period, she is able to send the family to Italy where Torvald is able to recover. The signature on the loan backfires and it seems as if her life is falling apart. Nora is not able to deal with the situation, for she has never dealt with personal confrontation. The only logical resolution for her is to run away and leave her problems.
Nora put her whole self on the line when Torvald was ill and needed medical attention. The doctors advised her to take him to Italy, where the warm climate would help him heal. Nora borrows a large amount of money in order to save the life of her husband. She is not motivated to help Torvald by her intense love for him. Nora demonstrates how she does not know or love her husband when she claims she “can’t spend the night in a strange man’s bed” (Ibsen 432), but rather her drive originates from the social pressures of society. Social pressures kept her in a captive marriage, where there were “not merely social pressures that have kept her a captive marriage but the psychological division that has made her a willing collaborator in her own imprisonment” (Hurt 439). Although she claims to Mrs. Linde to be in the happiest eight years of her life with Torvald, she is lying.
The realization that she must totally distance herself from Torvald, which entails the refusal to associate with anything that is a reminder to her, arrived at a crucial time in Nora’s life. This sudden insight came at the moment she discovered she was a part of a loveless marriage (Hurt 439). Nora’s entire life is completely dependent on a predominant male figure. She begins to grab control of her life, along with finding independence, the moment she makes the decision to leave her family and start a new life. Nora’s Victorian upbringing is responsible for her attitude toward life and her acceptance of a dominating mate because she was never given any independence and responsibility. Nora’s new independent personality causes her to abandon her current life. She grasps for a new life, and receives it with great determination.