Examining The Struggle For Womens Identity English Literature Essay

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In the play A Doll's House the author, Henrik Ibsen, relates his topic to the fit time frame. Ibsen, while writing this play, approaches womens rights as an important key. Throughout this time period woman were much neglected and looked down upon as anything less than just a housewife. The play was written during a crucial time of Naturalism, which highly affected the everyday household. Ibsen recognized in his writings that in the 19th century woman played a role to be a stay at home mother, raised the children, and adverts to her husband at all times. The character Nora Helmer plays the role as a 19th century housewife in A Doll's House and is interpreted as a victim to woman's rights.

Nora is a distressed housewife that tries to always satisfy her husband, Torvald. In the play she acts as if she has a superior role, which is very important to her character. Nora often feels oppressed from her disappointment from her husband and also the manipulation she gets from Torvald. Torvald is a middle-class man and has a normal relationship with society. "Torvald Helmer upholds these values because it is in his interest to do so. He knows that his dominant quality, self-interest, will be protected by his adherence to conventional morality. He imposes it on his wife, Nora, because it satisfies his vanity and makes her subservient to him. To him the man is the superior being, holding the economic reins and thereby concentrating in his hands all power and responsibility in the household, making the woman his slave" (Goonetilleke). Torvald is an egotistical bank manager with quite a few different job duties that he has to maintain. He cannot seem to figure out the difference between his wife and his job because he treats Nora as if she is another responsibility he has to take care of. Torvald is more fascinated in his appearances and he is with his wife and he should be putting her before anyone else if he supposedly loves her. Torvald is an extremely selfish man that is more worried about his reputation than his wife's feelings. "Helmer: Before all else you are a wife and a mother.

Nora: That I no longer believe. I think that before all else I am a human being, just as much as you are--or, at least, I will try to become one. I know that most people agree with you, Torvald, and that they say so in books. But henceforth I can't be satisfied with what most people say, and what is in books. I must think things out for myself and try to get clear about them. I had been living here these eight years with a strange man, and had borne him three children--Oh! I can't bear to think of it--I could tear myself to pieces! I can't spend the night in a strange man's house" (Ibsen, 1608). The concepts of the quote can relate to Nora Helmer's character; which throughout most of the play is distressed, presents an unrealistic identity to herself and throughout the play she seems to discovery her true identity.

Although Nora and Torvald seem to live a happy normal marriage, it comes to an end where all of their true feelings come out at once. Nora starts to realize that Torvald treats her like a child in their relationship and she also begins to come to a conclusion on how phony her marriage really is. Torvald looks at Nora as if she has only one role in his life and that is to be a non-backboned loving wife. When Torvald speaks to Nora he refers to her as "my little squirrel" (Ibsen, 1559), "my little lark" (Ibsen, 1560), or "spendthrift"(Ibsen, 1562). Nora seems only as an item to him or a toy that he can play around with. Torvald speaks down to Nora and calls her by minimizing pet-names because he feels that she in not intelligent and does not deserve his time of day. Whenever Nora begins to speak what is on her mind or put in her own opinion, Torvald suddenly degrades her with comments like; "worries that you couldn't possibly help me with"(Ibsen, 1562), and "Nora, Nora, just like a woman"(1565). In that society Torvald has just a typical husband always degrading his wife. He would not allow Nora the right to act the way she wished nor would he accept the fact that she had a mind of her own too. Torvald required Nora to agree upon everything he had to say whether she wanted to or not.

Nora is an ever-changing character in the play A Doll's House. "The demands she embodies - to be regarded as an autonomous adult, to determine her own system of beliefs, to enjoy a marriage that is a partnership, and to be able to leave the domestic sphere, including her husband and children, in pursuit of self-development" (Stetz) is an example of how she changes her character from the beginning of the story. She goes through many life changing situations and develops her true self more than anyone else in the play. Nora was an inauthentic person throughout most of the play. Nora became an inauthentic person because she was always pampered from a small child from her papa and now she is getting the same thing from her husband, Torvald. Basically, Nora was been carried through life by her father and husband which is why she is unsure of herself. She believes that Torvald is her idol or her god because everything he would say to her was magnifying. Nora fits the description of a perfect doll wife who can afford luxuries because her husband works for it. She has a very flirty attitude towards others and sometimes puts herself in childlike situations where she catches herself lying to her husband about little things whether she ate macaroons or not. Nora strolls through her everyday life thinking that nothing could go wrong and that it is perfect.

Nora is like most mothers, she would sacrifice to do anything for her husband and children. She feels that her purpose in life is to love her family and to be there to take care of them. Nora often felt unsure whether or not that she believed she loved Torvald or that she was happy with their marriage. She always had a devoted and passionate heart toward her husband and was willing to do the unthinkable for him. Nora was unaware that her husband did not reciprocate the same feelings as she did. Torvald has never been a big fan of having a wife that will challenge him to his own ideas or that has a mind of her own. Nora has realized the situation between herself and Torvald had started to grow in the wrong direction. In the last confrontation between the two Torvald calls her a "featherbrained woman" (Ibsen, 1603) and a "blind, incompetent child" (Ibsen, 1603) because he feels that she does not deserve his time of day. Nora always thought that Torvald would respect her and be thankful for her being his wife, but that does not happen on bit. When Torvald says, "Now you have destroyed all my happiness. You've ruined my whole future. It's horrible to think about!"(Ibsen, 1603) he demonstrates how wrapped up in himself he truly is. After reading the note from Torvald, Nora begins to see that she never really knew this man and now he seems strange to her, he was someone she did not love anymore. Their whole marriage turned out to be a fake; they were never truly in love with one another. "Nora: No that's exactly it. You don't understand me, and I've never understood you either, until tonight. No, don't interrupt me. I want you to listen to what I have to say. Torvald, I'm settling accounts with you. Nora then realizes that her forgery was an honest mistake and that it was wrong because it was for an unworthy cause. Finally Nora transforms into her authentic character once she has made peace with herself. Nora then comes to a conclusion that they only way she would be able to find herself independently is if she leaves Torvald and her children behind.

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