, Research Paper
The Statement of the Liberation of Women as Shown in A Doll?s House
In reading Ibsen?s A Doll?s House today, a person could find it hard to imagine how daring it seemed when Ibsen wrote it over one hundred years ago. A main subject of this play is the emancipation of women from the restrictions that society and men place on them. When Ibsen wrote this play he was making a statement about a woman?s role in Victorian society. That statement is that society should allow women to be independent, and that women should free themselves from the restrictions that society places on them.
In Act I, there are many clues that let us know what kind of marriage Nora and Torvald have. It seems like Nora is controlled by her husband in every way. She relies on Torvald for every thing in her life, from the way she thinks, to the way that she gets money from him. ? Torvald, surely we can afford to be extravagant now, can?t we? Just a teeny-weeny bit. You are getting quite a good salary now, and you are going to earn lots and lots of money?Money?Ten, twenty, thirty, forty. Oh thank you, thank you, Torvald.?( Ibsen 1416).
The most obvious example of Torvald?s control over Nora is his reteaching of the tarantella. Nora pretends that she needs Torvald to teach her every move in the dance. While reading the story we can see that Nora already knows the dance. This shows us the submissiveness that Nora has, when it comes to Torvald. After he teaches her the dance Torvald says, ? as I watched you darting and swaying in the tarantella, my blood was on fire? (Ibsen 1458).
This shows how Torvald is more interested in Nora physically than emotionally. When Nora responds to Torvald by saying ?Go away Torvald! Leave me alone. I won?t have it?(Ibsen 1458).
Torvald responds to her by saying, ?Aren?t I your husband? ?( Ibsen1458).
By saying this, he is implying that one of Nora?s duties as a wife is to physically pleasure him at his command.
Another window from which we can look into Nora and Torvald?s marriage is the way they talk to each other. They use pet names every time they talk to each other. ?Is that my little sky-lark chirruping out there? Yes it is. Is that my little squirrel frisking about? Yes! When did my little squirrel get home?? ( Ibsen 1415).
The only time in the story in which they don?t use these pet names is when Nora is leaving Torvald. This represents her breaking away and leaving behind the restrictions that society and her husband have placed on her.
During the course of the play Nora sees that some women can live independently. Mrs. Linde shows her this. Mrs. Linde is an example of an independent woman in society, but only because she is a widow. Widows are expected to be independent, and work to take care of themselves and their families. According to Victorian society married women are suppose to stay at home and take care of the children. Mrs. Linde shows Nora that she can be an independent woman and free herself from the shackles that society has placed on her.
Throughout the course of the play we see that Torvald treats Nora like a child. His distrust of her with money shows this. Whenever Torvald departs with his money, and gives it to Nora he worries what she will do with it. He thinks that she is very bad with money and that she will just spend it on something foolish. ?If only you could really hold on to the money gave you.? (Ibsen 1416).
This statement not only shows how Torvald sees Nora, but how the Victorian society sees women in general. Torvald treats his wife like a child, and Mrs.Linde sees this. She
shows Nora what Torvald is doing. This statement by Mrs. Linde shows this ?Nora! In lots of ways you are still a child.?(Ibsen 1438).
In the play we see that Nora?s duties are very restricted. She is restricted to caring for the children, doing housework, and working on her needlepoint. A problem with her responsibilities is that most important obligation is to please Torvald. The other obligations such as caring for the children, she can let the maid take care of.
Her children are another concern in the play. If Nora continues to let Torvald dominate her than her children are doomed to follow in her footsteps. The children are being raised to know their role in society. The Christmas presents that are bought for them show this. ?Look some new clothes for Ivar?and a little sword?And a doll and a doll?s cot for Emmy.?(Ibsen 1416).
The boys get new clothes and a toy sword; the girl only gets a doll. These presents represent a man and a woman?s place in society. The new clothes and the sword show that a man?s place is out in the world and his job is to care for his family. The doll that the little girl receives shows that a woman?s place is at home, and she is to care for the children.
The problem in A Doll?s House is not only in Torvald, but the entire Victorian society. Torvald himself represents the Victorian society. The way that Torvald treats Nora is the way that most men treated their wives in that time. The play is a statement about the way that women were treated in the Victorian society. The play shows the way that women were seen as objects to men.
Nora starts to realize something is wrong with her life after Krogstad exposes her. When Torvald doesn?t immediately offer to help Nora, she sees the problem. By waiting until after he discovers that he will suffer no social harm, Torvald reveals his true feelings. Torvald puts what people will think of him ahead of his feelings for his wife, he claims to love. When Nora sees this, she decides that it is time for her to leave Torvald. When Torvald tries to make Nora stay, she explains to him how she feels like she has been treated like a child all of her life. She feels that both Torvald and her father treated her this way. Both of the major males in her life had denied her the right to think and act the way that she wanted to, thus limiting her happiness. This shows the way that males in a Victorian society dictate what females are allowed to do. When Nora finally slams the door on Torvald, she is also slamming the door on everything else in society that dictates what a woman?s place is. This statement shows Nora finally breaking away from Torvald, and social norms and becoming her own woman. ?You are talking like a child. You understand nothing about the society you live in. No I don?t ? I must try to discover who is right, society or me.? ( Ibsen 1467).
Torvald represents the way that society treats and views women. Ibsen is making a statement about this in the play. The way that Nora takes her life in her own hands and liberates herself makes the statement that society is wrong. A Doll?s House is a very feminist play. Ibsen is trying to tell women to stand up and take control of their lives. He does this through the way he shows Nora going through a drastic change and slamming the door on a society that restricts her. Through the course of this play Nora fights to remove the restrictions that the men in her life and society has placed on her.