A Dolls House Essay, Research Paper
In the play, A Doll?s House, by Henrik Ibsen there seems to include serious social commentary underlying in this piece. This play is obviously critical of the time period, but also presents little or no solutions. The play is critiquing the society of the time for its structured hierarchy of male dominance. The play has placed its blame by skillfully creating characters that bring forth issues of power and control, ignorance and innocence, rebirth, and social status. Throughout the course of the play, each character and their interactions with one another help to reinforce the production?s criticism of an unequal society.
A Doll?s House created the character of Nora in order to portray how women of his time period are ignorant of their situation in society. The play also attempted to show how women are taught to play ignorant. She does not realize until the end of the play that men have always controlled her. Her ignorance is apparent through everything in her life. She does not even take the fact that she has children seriously. She has a nurse take care of her children and she visits them when she feels like it. Nora plays with her children like they are some whimsical objects that delight her for one moment and bore her the next. She has no concept of how to raise children or how to be a mother at all. At the end of the play Nora admits to Helmer, ? . . . how am I equipped to bring up the children? (Ibsen 608). Nora is not allowed to control anything in her life. How can she possibly take care of children if she cannot even take care of herself? Her controlling husband has kept her ignorant in order to have power over her.
Furthermore, another occurrence in the play that exhibits Nora?s learned ignorance is the looming problem of the illegal loan that she took out in her father?s name. Her ignorance comes to light when she reveals her secret to Mrs. Linde. Nora believes that she has a real accomplishment that she can be proud of. In her vain attempt to try and convince Mrs. Linde that she does not have the mentality of a child, Nora?s ignorance becomes grossly apparent. Coupled with this incident is the scene later in the play when Krogstad confronts Nora with the fact that she committed obvious forgery in order to secure the loan. Krogstad reveals to her that he knows what she has done and that there are very real legal punishments that could destroy her life. She cannot comprehend the fact that she broke the law. Krogstad realizes this and tells Nora, ?Mrs. Helmer, obviously you haven?t the vaguest idea of what you?ve involved yourself in? (Ibsen 594). In her ignorance she tries to create a sense of innocence for herself. She tries to reason with Krogstad that her actions were all justifiable. Nora truly believes that she did the right thing and the idea that she broke any law never crosses her mind. She saved her husbands life with that money and that is the end of that problem. Her secure world built over years of blind ignorance comes crashing down when she finally realizes that she must wake up and face the truth.
A Doll?s House uses its tools to show his obvious resentment of a society that is unequal and divided. Nora is ignorant because men have always made her that way. It is their means of suppression. By being ignorant of their situation, women of Ibsen?s time are ignorant to the problem. The play uses the example of taking a loan to show the major flaws in the society and culture of this time period. A Doll?s House has a problem with the fact that a woman cannot be taken seriously or even think for herself. This piece wants people to realize the problems with a society structured like this and it uses simple, everyday examples to get his point across.
These realizations of her own ignorance being used against her allows Nora?s character to explore underlying issues of power. Nora?s husband has always controlled her life. Before him, it was her father. Nora has always been a man?s doll. Towards the end of the play, Nora asks Helmer why they have never sat down and talked about anything seriously and he responds, ?But dearest, what good would that ever do you? (Ibsen 608)? He awes at her beauty and takes pride in the fact that she is his possession. Her value is in her consent and her beauty not her mind. Nora?s ignorance leads her to believe that she is in control of something. In reality she is a puppet.
Moreover, this major theme of power and control are also apparent in the relationship between Krogstad and Nora. He is blackmailing her in order to try and save his job. Krogstad knows Nora?s secret and is using it to control her. Just like the norms of society during Ibsen?s time, women have virtually no power. Men who were in superior positions constantly controlled the women of that time period. They have no alternative because society dictates that it must be this way. In the same way, Helmer has influence over Krogstad. In a sense, Krogstad?s life is in Helmer?s hands. He can fire Krogstad at his whim and send him tumbling down the social ladder again. Only in a few situations is this unspoken law true. For example in the relationship between Krogstad and Mrs. Linde, she has power over him because he is in love with her. She has the ability to control his actions and possibly save Nora by using his love for her against him. This theme of power and control is a major issue throughout the play.
The end of the play concludes with Nora deciding to start a new life alone. She has come to terms with her ignorance and realized that up to this point, she has been the object of a man?s control. Her rebirth, whether a good decision or not, occurs after she decides to leave Helmer and live a life of her own. Up to this point in the play, Nora is not a person because she has always been an object. Society and her own ignorance have always controlled her. After she walks out on her husband, children and everything she has ever known, Nora becomes her own person. For the first time in her life she is on her own and can think for her. Nora tells Helmer at the end of the play that, ?I have to try to educate myself. You can?t help me with that. I?ve got to do it alone. And that?s why I?m leaving you now? (Ibsen 608). Another man will never again control her. Her rebirth has led to her own independence. She is free of Krogstad and her husband. A Doll?s House is trying to get it’s point across that for most women living during this time period, running away was virtually impossible and unthinkable. This production wants it to be very clear that this is a problem that has to be dealt with because it affects everyone. The play’s style is to identify a major problem within society and bring it to light but not to claim to have any of the answers.
A Doll?s House criticizes the social structure of this time period through the story. This piece tries to show how ignorant men are to the fact that they control their wives thoughts and actions. They do not even take women seriously. Nora emphasizes this point by saying, ? . . . you never understood me. I?ve been wronged greatly. Torvald-first by papa, and then by you? (Ibsen 608). Again, the point is made that she is not a person but an object. Nora reminisces about how her father, ? . . . used to call me his doll-child, and he played with me the way I played with my dolls? (Ibsen 608). Nora and Helmer do not even know one another. Their marriage is fake and mutually beneficial because of their social status. They are not really in love and that is one of the reasons why Nora feels she must leave. Nora tells Helmer, ? . . . I?m a human being, no less than you-or anyway, I ought to try to become one. I know the majority thinks you?re right . . . ? (Ibsen 609). The majority is of course men in society that controlled everything during that time period.
A Doll?s House’s social and cultural commentaries of nineteenth century Scandinavia are far-reaching and powerful. The play strongly disapproves of the unequal structure and hierarchy between males and females. Its message is grim but powerful and his solutions are non-existent. The play wants people to realize that the truth hurts and must be faced if any progress is to be made.