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A Doll's House focus is on woman's function in society, particularly in the of marriage and motherhood context. In particular, Helmer has a very clear definition of the role of a woman. He strongly believes a woman divine duty is to be a good wife as well as a mother. He is representative of the degrading nature of men towards women. He views women as childish, helpless beings alienated from reality as well as prominent moral forces responsible for the purity of the world through their influence in the home. This is also why the book is called A Dolls House.
Nora, in light of being a moral agent, outrages the contemporary audience and continues to perplex and fascinate the ones not entirely at ease with her final act when she decides to throw of the shackles of marriage, living her husband and three children in search of herself. She realizes her life has been voiceless that she has just been an object, to sire children and please her husband in marriage and her father in as a child. She has been a doll, a plaything. The moral aspects are not especially so that she leaves Helmer but that she abandons her children.
Nora make out the differences between freedom and responsibility based of patriarchal laws and true freedom upon which a human agency ought to be base upon. Listen, Torvald- "I've heard that when a wife deserts her own Husband's house just as I'm doing, then the law frees him from all responsibility". She goes on to tell him that her living will result in a win-win situation as she would be freeing him from responsibilities, resulting in absolute freedom for both of them. We also find out that Nora's attachment to her husband is founded on delusion of romantic love, but her repudiation toward him is not at all an illusion.
Helmer tells her that before everything else she has to not only be a wife but also a mother, since it is the norm. Nora in turn rejects this and tells her that it no longer forms part of a belief system and tell him that before everything else she should be allowed her human rights to be herself. She says that in her eight years of marriage she has lived with a stranger and gone ahead to bear him children which in a sense are degrading to degrading for a woman to live with a stranger and be used as an object of amusement and procreation yet according the marriage institution, it demands that the status quo remains and the societal conception of duty for the sake of the lie she ought to be nothing more than doll, a plaything. Her revolutionary message is that mutual trust and respect within an environment that is free from repression is the only way that can result in a true bond between a man and a woman. This is symbolized by her closing the door to her house (doll house).
The old south social tradition diminishes the values of unmarried women that expose them to destruction or domination by men. Social rule in the Old South diminishes unmarried women completely, leaving them vulnerable to domination or destruction by men. By showing the triumph of brutality over discretion and delicacy, Stanley actions depicts the disposable character of Blanche's type. Equally Eunice insistence that Stella's marriage to Stanly must continue, her reasoning is that the only means of a woman's survival lays in males companionships. This is a lie and as such chooses to ignore the glaring truth that by acknowledging the suffering in the hand of their husband's is the only means to ensure their survival.
In scene eleven, the behavior of Blanche towards the men playing poker as well as during her bath reveals the extent in which being raped has scarred her emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing. The bathing is different form earlier one as it is symbolic of her effort to wash off Stanley violations as opposed to her past sexual indiscretions. The disturbing realities of the marriage institution is also brought out that by making Blanche's deception and illusion about her past appear as a minor issue in the light of Stanly marriage. Marriage is depicted as a sort of illusion that is based on lies. Blanches and Stella's roles are thus changed, with the latter admitting that she may have got into a world of illusion as she cannot believe her sister's accusation about Stanley's rape story and as such goes on to cling to him. Blanch madness protects Stella from the harsh truth as it prevents Blanche's ever giving credibility to her claims.
On the other hand Stanly, whose behavior is known to the audience, via his present actions as there exists no back story about him, is dominant, aggressive and sexually oriented. This makes Blanche intrusion upset his structured life. His endeavor to unmask the real her is violent and cruel where in their final confrontation he rapes her resulting in Blanche's nervous breakdown. This represents the plight of unmarried women in that south, they are disrespected and disposable which is unethical.
Leavy, Barbara Fass. In Search of the Swan Maiden: A Narrative on Folklore and Gender. NYU Press, 1995.