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Doll House Essay Research Paper EnglishAnalysisofDramaINTHENAMEOFTHEFATHERANANALYSISOFNORA THE

Doll House Essay, Research Paper English:?Analysis?of?Drama IN?THE?NAME?OF?THE?FATHER: AN?ANALYSIS?OF?NORA, THE MEN IN HER LIFE, AND?HER?NAVIGATATION?TO INDEPENDENCE

Doll House Essay, Research Paper

English:?Analysis?of?Drama

IN?THE?NAME?OF?THE?FATHER:

AN?ANALYSIS?OF?NORA, THE MEN IN HER LIFE,

AND?HER?NAVIGATATION?TO INDEPENDENCE

?

The?play,?A?Doll?House,?written?by?Henrik?Ibsen?in?1879,?is?considered?a?

landmark?in?drama?for?its?portrayal?of?realistic?people,?places,?and?situations.?Ibsen?

confines?his?story?to?the?middle?class.?He?writes?of?a?society?that?is limited?not only?by?its?means?of?livelihood?but?also?its?outlook.?Ibsen?portrays?his characters ?

as?preoccupied?with?work?and?money, showing a reduction of values?in?and that lack of quality persons with morals.?Ibsen?takes?this?realistic?story?and?invests?it?with?

universal?significance.?Wrapped?up?in?the?technique?of?this?well?constructed ?play, Ibsen?is masterful?in?his?presentation?of?not?only?realism,?but he?holds?a?mirror?up?

to the?society?of his day by?using?the male?figures?as?catalysts?for?Nora’s?ultimate?

knowledge?of?self-actualization.?He?accomplishes?this?with?such?precision

that?the?audience?might?not?be?aware?all?the?subtleties?that?are?creating?their

theatrical?experience.??

In?A Doll House,?Nora?forges?the?name?of?her?father?and?risks?damaging?her?

husband’s?good?name.??Henrik?Ibsen?offers?remarkable?insight?into?the?nineteenth?

century?preoccupation?with?the?family?and?the?role?of?the?father, and what role is projected upon those who are subjugated to him.?This?play?takes?up?the?subject?of?

strong?women?and?weak?men within the plot. A?prominent?theme?within?this?drama?

is?the?deterioration?of?the?male,?who is aware?of?his?role?as?a?”father?figure”. This decomposition is observed by the female protagonist (Nora). It is this descent that the role of the father figure is shaped, while creating the?catalyst?for the catharsis

or?change?in?Nora.? ?When?the?female?protagonist?challenges?patriarchal?authority,?she?does?so?

by?undermining?in?one?form?or?another?both?the?dominant?male?and?his?family?name. The?following?analysis?focuses?on?Nora’s?ultimate?realization?that?she?must?be?an?

emancipated?person?to?be?her?true?self.?Her?navigation?through?the?elements?of?

crises?are?focused?through?the?father-figures?in?her?life.?The?journey?towards?her?

self-actualization?and?rising?freedom?can be found?within?her?relationships?with?

the?men?in?her?life.?This?ultimately?identifies?the?relevant?thematic?elements?

that?are?pivotal?for?Nora?s?character?development?from a vapid child posing as what ever will get her through the day into a inquisitive woman. Nora develops her potential as a true mature person with the experience and knowledge that she has a longer journey ahead of her.

A Doll House?makes extensive use?of?the?father’s?name,?and?the?

father figure.?Ibsen?subtly?unravels?the?family?as?a?male?dominated?society?almost?

fatally?preoccupied?with?its?own?masculine?image while trapping those who would believe in the myth.?A Doll House?utilizes?the?father?as?a?complex?metaphor?

for?a?larger?social?problem?which?constrains?both?men?and?women.?Nora’s?persona?

and?her?developing?maturity?are?completely?controlled?and?motivated?by,?

her?father?s?name,?Torvald,?and?Dr.?Rank:?the father-figures?in?her?life.?

? ?The?opening?scenes?of?A Doll House?focus?on?Torvald?and?Nora?Helmer?

preparing?for?Christmas?with?the?children.?The?family’s?economic?problems?establish

Nora?s pending conflict,?along?with?Torvald’s?position?of?authority. This?comes?

both from his economic dominance and?from?his?(and?Nora’s)?belief?in?his?

superiority.?He?rules?Nora?and?his?children?like?a?parody?of?a?God.?He?creates?and

subjugates?through?the?animal?names,?”lark,”?and?”squirrel,” when he addresses Nora. For example:

Is that my little lark twittering out there? / Is that my squirrel rummaging around? / …the little lark?s wings mustn’t droop.

(I.154-55)

By addressing Nora in such a derogatory manner Torvald is lessening her humanity. Nora, in turn, as part of her daily persona mirrors his impression of her by self fulfilling prophecy. She acts like the animal he has assigned her. She speaks quickly and perky like a lark or is running around hiding things like a squirrel preparing for winter.

Through?the?visit?of?friend?Mrs.?Linde,?we?discover?that?Nora?had?to?save?a?

very?sick?Torvald?by?borrowing?money?and?by?working?two?exclusively?masculine?

activities?usually?forbidden?to?women.?Assumption?of?these tasks?automatically?

undermine?Torvald’s?authority.?The?plot?unfolds?into two?parallel?stories,?

both?of?them?hinging?on?strong?or?”masculine”?women?and?weak, ?feminine,”?

men.?(Paradoxically,?the?only?potentially?strong?male?is?Dr.?Rank,?family?friend?

and?secret?admirer?of?Nora,?who?is?dying.)

? The?flaw?within?this?patriarchal?framework?becomes?apparent?when?Nora?

discovers that?she?has?no?legitimate?name?of?her?own.?She?can?use?neither?

her?married?name?nor?her?maiden?name?to?borrow?money. She finds that she cannot?appropriate?her?father’s?name.?In?other?words,?as?a?married?woman?she?

has?neither?authority?nor?identity.?While Torvald’s?authority?rests?on?his?assumption?

of?his?natural?and?presumably?divinely?bestowed?superiority.?Once?Nora?realizes?the?shallowness?of?Torvald’s?position,?she?rejects?him?as?patriarch?and?herself?as?the?narrowly?defined?wife.?

When?she?leaves,?Nora?understands?that she?has?lived?her?life as only an

unquestioning follower, or as a doll in a doll house. Never being able to choose or express a hope, desire, thought, or wishes, without consideration of the dominant authority in her life. That?authority is,?first,?the?father?who?has?literally?

died,?and,?second,?the?husband?who?has?proved?to?be?so?weak?that?he?has?died?

for?her?as?an?authority?figure.?Nora,?in?other?words,?finds?herself?embodying?a

?series?of?dead?or?weak?men.?When?she?closes?the?door?behind?her,?she?leaves?a?house?filled?with?dying?or dead?patriarchal?figures.?A?house?in?which?the?”father”?as?

an?image?of?strength?and of?salvation?has?already?died. But it is only through

the experiences with these men that Nora?s comes to question her life.

?Within?Nora’s?interactions?with?the?men?in?her?life,?the?signature?of?dead?

father?comes?at the?beginning?of?the play.?In?this?sense,?Ibsen?s?writing?becomes?

even?more?impressive?as?Nora’s?actions?bring?forth?the?hidden?powers?

of?fathers?and?their?names.?Nora?realizes?that?the?name?of?her father?may?be?all?that?

remains?of?him.?She also arrives?at?a?basic?realization?about the Law. An institution?which?she?turns to for salvation. Her?father?s?name?represents?something?

from?which?she?always?has?been?and?always?will?be?separated.?It is through

Torvald and Krogstad (the man she takes the loan from) that Nora realizes the nature of her relationship with her father and what kind of man he was. By?forging?her?father’s?name,?Nora?tried?to?appropriate?the?name?of?

the?father.?But?as?a?married?woman?she?cannot?legally?assume?her?father’s?name,?

Since?a?woman?changes?her?name?when?she?marries.?Ironically,?her?father’s?name has?little?real?or?symbolic?authority.?According?to?Torvald,?Nora’s?father?

lacked?those?paternal?qualities?of?uprightness,?morality,?and?strength?that?

characterize?a?father?as?God. As shown when Torvald says to Nora:

All your father’s flimsy values have come out in you. No religion, no morals, no sense of duty…..(III.205)

?In?other?words,?the?name?Nora?wrote?signified?little?or?nothing?more?than?itself.?

Even?in?her father?s name and its?near?meaninglessness,??and with her taking it in vain, she begins the events that threaten her family with ruin. Nora?s subjective view of the circumstances force her to use?the?name?of?her?father?to?sign?

a?loan?to?save?her?sick?husband?her?forgery?lacks?validity.?She?cannot?

invoke?the?symbolic?law/father.?Nora?attempts?to?connect?the?father’s?

name?with?signature.?Had?she?truly?gotten?her?father’s?signature,?the?document?

would?have?been?legal,?because?the?father’s?name?serves?as?guarantor.?But?since?the?signature?is?false,?and?it?is?written?by?a?woman,?it?signifies?nothing?but?the?

absence?of?the?father.?By?using?her?father?s name ?to?sign?a legal document (a?violation?of?the?fifth?commandment),?Nora?has?committed?a?kind?of?sacrilege.?Her?

subterfuge?makes?her?guilty?of?having?challenged?the?father. And in that act she has questioned the law, her husband, and her position within her family and society as a whole. This leads to her catharsis by forcing her to look at herself in a manner that she had never planned or envisioned.

Ibsen?sustains?the?image?of?Nora’s?exclusion?from?the?weakening?patriarchy?

Throughout the play and a series of letters and cards?reinforces?the real and symbolic?deaths?of?the?father-figure.?Nora’s?forged?signature?does?in?fact?allow?

her?to?borrow?money?and?save?her?sick?husband.?Although?she?publicly?tries?to?build?up?Torvald’s?image?as?a?banker,?a?husband,?and?a?man,?she?comes to a point where she cannot can not?reinstate?in?him?the?mythological?authority?that?he?has always lacked and she (at one time) never questioned.?

The?Name-of-the-Father?is?all?there?is. ?Dr.?Rank, a family friend,?the?only?

man with any strength of character has a fatal?illness??and?announces?his?withdrawal from?life?by?leaving a?card?marked?with?an?X.?This?note?symbolizing?Rank’s?Good?-bye?has?no?meaning,?but?to?Nora?and?to?Rank?it?means?death.?In?contrast?to?Torvald,?the?Doctor?rejects?the?trappings?of?authority,?and?he?becomes?Nora’s?best?friend.?Yet?by?expressing?his?love?for?her,?he is?making?a?claim?on?her.?And in this action he prevents?Nora?from?asking?for?his?help.?As?the?only father?figure?in?the?play?that?is?

not?a?father,?Rank?simply shrinks when it comes to the possibility of becoming savior to Nora. ?As doctor?he?committed?himself?to?life,?xing?out,?his?own?name,

he?accepts?his?death. This gesture is symbolic to the audience as well as Nora?s character. By eliminating his signature, he is sealing the fate of Nora and insuring that she becomes her own salvation.?When observing Torvald?s reaction to the note Nora questions (possibly for the first time) Torvald?s reaction as inappropriate.?

At the climax of the play Torvald?tries?to?rekindle?Nora’s?slave?spirit in an effort to validate him and to reestablish his dominance over his environment. Helmer pleads with Nora:

You?loved?me?the?way?a?wife?ought?to?love?her?husband.?

It’s?simply?the?means?that?you?couldn’t?judge.?But?you?think?

I?love?you?any?the?less?for?not?knowing?how?to?handle

? your?affairs??No,?no?just?lean?on?me;?I’ll?guide?you?and?teach?you.?

I?wouldn’t?be?a?man?if?this?feminine?helplessness?didn’t?

make?you?twice?as?attractive?to?me.?(III.207)

Unconsciously,?Torvald?admits?in?the?last?line?that?he?would?not?be?a?man?if?

he?could?not?believe?in?feminine?helplessness.?Aroused?by?his?vision?of?Nora’s?weak?

femininity,?he?again?invokes?his?male?strength?and?authority?by?returning?to?his

?masculine?vocabulary.?He longs for Nora?to become the?”songbird”?beneath?his?wide?

wings?and?a?”hunted?dove”that?he?has?rescued that he has referred to in the past.?

?Torvald’s?speech?assumes?a?godlike?role?by?claiming?both?motherhood?

and?fatherhood.?But?the?play?itself?has?now?undermined?Torvald’s?masculine?powers.?

He?is?impotent?as?a?god?and?dead?as?a?male?authority?figure,?and?the?audience?and

Nora?realizes?it (only?Torvald?does?not.)

In this final dialogue Nora is changed. Torvald does nothing with his insistence but force Nora to truly see the quality of her life marriage and Torvald?s character. And she?makes?it?clear?that?she?does?not?blame?only?Torvald,?but?to?

the entire?patriarchal?system?that?passed?her?like?a?child?from?her?father’s

house?to?Torvald’s.?

Nora?has?already?tried?to?assert?her?own?identity and?authority?to?Krogstad.

When?she?denied?or?challenged?the?significance?of?the?name?of?the?father

she was refusing to become what has always be forced onto her.?In?one sense,?at

the?play’s?end?Nora?refuses?to?succumb?to?the?masculine identity?and?insists?

on?her?own ability. She declares her aspiration?to?become?a?person?who?names

her signature?indicates.?In?her?closing?lines Nora declares:

I?m a human being no lees than you – or anyway I ought to become

one. …..I can?t go on believing what the majority says, or what?s written in books. I have to think over these things myself and try to understand them. (III.209)

Nora?rejects?the?patriarchal?family?structure?that?denies?her?an?independent?

identity.?She?demands?a?transformation,?an?evolution?of relationships based on education and equality.??By?rejecting?Torvald, and?by?denying?the?absent?and?

dead?father?whose? name?she?invoked?with?the?forged?signature, Nora has traveled the distance. She has fostered the ability in herself to question the bogus conventions that have held her in subjugation.?

?By?giving?Nora?the?right?to?walk?toward?her?own?identity, Ibsen has given her?the?right?to?find her?own?language,?to?sign?her?own?name.?Nora’s final?gesture?

declares?her?separation?from?the?fixed?role of?a?wife.?Nora?seems?to?stand as dominant example of emancipation. Nora?insists?on?pulling?herself?away?

from?Torvald’s?view?of?her?as?a?stereotypical?wife.?She?chooses?instead?to?see?

herself?as?someone?in?process,?in?a?state?of?becoming,?rather?than?of having?defined?

being.?Nora?discovers?that?because?her?own?signature?had?no?value,?she?had?to?take?

the?name?of?the?dead/absent?father. Eventually?realizing?that?she?cannot?escape?the?

ghost?or?the?name?of?the?absent?husband/father.??

Thus, through Nora?s association and interaction with her father figures she, in a broader sense,?hints?at?the possibility?of?a?new dynamic for the family

and society as a whole. A time in which the person, no matter the gender, is allowed to sign for him or herself rather, than use the name of an father. In?A Doll House?Nora?discovers?herself?disenfranchised?and?disembodied?by?her?

father’s/husband’s?name.?This only occurs by virtue of her inner resolve and the

inherit flaws Ibsen has given to the male characters of the play. She finally?rejects? both her father and husband?and?affirms her ambition to?write?her?own?destiny.

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House . Drama: A HarperCollins Pocket Anthology. ed. R. S. Gwynn. New York: HarperCollins. 1993. 153-212.

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