Dolls House And Women Rights Essay Research

Doll`s House And Women Rights Essay, Research Paper

?A Doll House? is no more about women?s rights than Shakespeare?s

Richard II is about the divine right of kings, or Ghosts about syphilis. . . .

Its theme is the need of every individual to find out the kind of person he or

she is and to strive to become that person.? (Bloom 28) Ibsen portays this

behavior in A Doll House through one of the main characters, Nora Helmer, by

setting the scene in Norway in 1872. In the late 1800s, women did not play an

important role in society at all. Their job was mainly to cook, clean, sew, take

care of the children, and keep the house in order. They were treated as a

material possession rather than a human being that could think and act for

themselves and looked upon as a decorative member of the household. Women were

robbed of their true identity and at the end of the play, Nora leaves everything

behind to go out into the world to seek her identity. This behavior can be

traced back to the beginning of time when women were to stay home and gather

nuts and berries, while the men would go out and do the hunting and fishing. The

male always dominated over the women and it was not viewed as ?unfair.? Male

children would go to school to get an education in history, mathematics,

science, english/writing, while the female would go to school to learn how to

cook, sew, clean, and do household chores. The male could then further advance

his education by attending a college or university, whereas no college would

accept a women student. ?The history of mankind is a history of repeated

injuries and usurpations on the part of men toward woman, having in direct

object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her.? (Declaration of

Sentiments) It was believed that women were the inferior gender and had to have

special attention given to them. This idea dates back to the Medieval Period in

history and is where the whole idea of chivalry came about and men having to

provide special care. One can see that the idea of male superiority can be

referenced back to very early on in civilization to the day A Doll House was

written. ?Torvald: You stay right here and five me a reckoning. You understand

what you?ve done? Answer! You understand?? (Ibsen 187) Torvald says this to

Nora when he finds out that she took out a loan without his consent and forging

a signature. It is prevalent that Torvald is in a state of anger and he is

dominating the situation, letting Nora know who is in charge and not even

wanting an explanation to ?why?? she took out a loan. Women were very

limited in their rights in 1872. Such rights included: women had to submit to

laws when they had no voice in their formation, married women had no property

rights, husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives to the

extent that they could imprison or beat them with impunity, divorce and child

custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women and when women did work they

were paid only a fraction of what men earned, women were not allowed to enter

professions such as medicine or law, and women were robbed of their

self-confidence and self-respect, and were made totally dependent on men.

(Declaration of Sentiments) Ibsen makes references to this using Christine Linde,

widow and a friend to Nora. Christine?s husband died and left her penniless

and being that her father passed away, she is able to apply for a position at he

the bank. This is the only exception society made in women holding a job outside

the household. It is apparent that women have come a long way since 1872,

gaining the right to vote in 1920 under the 19th amendment in the constitution,

gaining a right to an equal education, owning property, and having a job. These

were all results of the women?s rights movement amongst others. Throughout the

play, Nora plays the role of a typical women in the 1800s, staying by her

husband?s side, taking care of the children, and doing all the household

chores. She does, however, go behind Torvald?s back when she takes out the

loan. When she realizes that she is unfit to do anything in life and announces

her remedy-?I have to try to educate myself? (Ibsen 192) she walks out the

door and expresses a deal of feminism universally agreed-upon base for women?s

emancipation, telling Torvald that she no longer knows how to be his wife and no

longer knows who she is. (Eisenberg 32) It was uncommon for women to walk out on

their husband?s as they do today because they were taught since they were

little, to always please their husband and do everything in their power to

satisfy and make him happy. This does not include walking out on him and leaving

him with the children. Nora did not know any better because she came from being

treated like a material object in her own house by her father, to being treated

like one by Torvald. ?You?re not the man I thought you were. Both you and my

father have both treated me like a doll.? (Ibsen 191) Therefore, her whole

life was based around other people making decisions for her and conformed to

their way of thinking until the end of the play, when she walks out and makes

her own decision. Nora shows her childish ways throughout the play by eating

macaroons, listening by Torvald?s door, and by playing with the children. It

is apparent that she is confused about marriage and her role as a woman in the

1800s. She does, however, make the right decision to leave although society

views this as an immoral thing to do. This was considered sinful and God would

punish you if you committed such an act of wrongdoing. In conclusion, I think

that women have made an incredible appearance and have play an immense role in

today?s society. Women are basically treated with equality today with men and

the times sure have changed. Ibsen?s play is a very good example of how life

was like for women in the past and they have obviously made progress since then.

I am very proud of what women have done for today?s society and I know that

they will continue fighting this neverending battle for equality until the very

end as Nora did.

Christina Katz English IV May 17, 1999 Senior Paper Works Cited Bloom,

Harold. ?Ibsen, Henrik, 1828-1906-Criticism and Interpretation.? New York:

Chelsea House Publishers, 1999. Close Up Foundation ?Declaration of

Sentiments, Seneca Falls, New York, 1848.?

1997 Eisenberg, Bonnie. ?Legacy of ?98: A Short History of The Movement.?,html. 1997 Ibsen, Henirk. A Doll?s House and

Other Plays. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1965.


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