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A Dolls House by Henrik Ibsen is a play that tackles womens rights as an importance of matter. A Dolls House was written during the movement of Naturalism which reflected the society. Ibsen acknowledges the fact that in the 19th Century, the role of the woman was to stay home, raise the children and attend to her husband. Nora Helmer is the character in "A Doll's House" who plays a 19th Century woman and is portrayed as a victim. Nora Helmer presents an inauthentic identity and is shown oppressed to the audience throughout the play. She attempts in turn to discover herself independently after.
The substandard of Nora is extremely vital to her character. She is oppressed by a variety of "tyrannical social conventions". "A Doll's House" depicts the role of a woman as being subordinate to emphasize their role in the society. Mrs. Helmer is subjugated by the manipulation from Torvald who has a very typical and old view on the relationship with society. With his new job title, Manager, many responsibilities arise. He even treats Nora as one of the responsibilities. He is very authoritative and puts his appearance, both social and physical, at the forefront of his wife the he allegedly loves. He is a respected man, who is very about it and cares little for his wife's feelings.
Torvald: "Nora!" (He takes her playfully by the ear.) [L.27-28, Act 1]
Torvald: "Look. (Giving her money.) Heavens, d'you think I don't know what it costs at Christmastime?"[L.51-52, Act 1]
The husband and wife relationship seems to be pleasant on the exterior. Nora is treated like a child in this relationship, but as the play progresses she realizes how phony her marriage is. Torvald sees Nora's only role as being submissive and a loving wife. To Torvald, she is his possession. Torvald calls Nora by pet-names and speaks down to her as he thinks she is not intelligent and mainly he thinks that she cannot think on her own. Whenever she tries to voice out her opinion, Torvald quickly calls her pet-name and insults her as a woman. He denies Nora's right to think and act the way she wishes. He needs her to act as an "imbecile" and insists upon the rightfulness of his views and ideas in all the matters arising.
Torvald:"Worries that you couldn't possibly help me with" and "just like a woman"[L.40, Act 1]
Nora : " Can't we burn just a little? A tiny little?" [L.22, Act 1]
Nora is a dynamic character in this play as she goes through many changes and develops more than any character. At the beginning and throughout the play, she is an inauthentic character because she has been pampered and spoon-fed all her life by her father and husband. She believes in Torvald whole-heartedly and has always believed that he was her idol. She is the ideal image of a doll who reveals in the thought of luxuries that she definitely affords as she is a married woman. She is very flirtatious and inexorably engaged in childlike acts of rebelliousness such as little lies, if she has or has not bought macaroons, as Torvald has restricted her from having them. Nora goes through life with the illusion that everything is perfect.Â
Nora : She takes a bag of macaroons from her pocket and eats two of them [L.7-8, Act 1] and she puts the macaroons in her pocket and wipes her mouth.[14-15, Act 1]
Nora sacrifices herself for her family. Her purpose in life is to make both husband and children happy. She has passionate and devoted heart that is willing to do everything for her family, especially for Torvald. Before she did not understand those communal feelings. Torvald is the old fashioned man who wants everything to be perfect in the martial relationship, i.e. he does not want Nora to challenge nor question him with her own actions and reasoning. The final confrontation between the couple involves oppression towards Torvald. Nora is very hopeful as she expected Torvald to be grateful to her but this does not happen. As after Torvald opens the letter, he exhibits his self- absorbed nature. Nora shows the fury, not believing that this is her husband, the person she loved. It is at this specific moment that she realizes that what she had done before was wrong because it was not worth it. After this desolate reproach, Nora embarks into her transformation of her "authentic character". She takes her resolutions by herself, comprehending that the only way to repair the confusion is to leave her family and alter her.
Nora: "He said I was featherbrained, and his duty as a husband was not to indulge myâ€¦my little whims, he called them." [L.390-392, Act 2]
Torvald: "And this is from you, the wife I supported and cherished throughout our marriage. Now d'you understand what you've done to me?"[L.393-395, Act 3]
Nora then seeks out her individuality, her authenticity. She realizes that her whole martial life has been a lie. When she starts realizing her responsibilities, she slams the door on the past. It took time for Nora to depart in the right direction, changing herself into an independent individual able to make her own decisions. Ibsen uses the idea of a "doll" as it maintains the same portrait, avoiding the situation they are in. A doll is complied to do whatever the controller makes them do. Doll's are meant to be silent and are unable to express their opinions or do anything without a helping hand. Here, Nora portrays her authentic identity.
Nora:"I've existed to perform for you, Torvald. You've done me great harm, you and Daddy: you've blocked my life."[L. 514-516, Act 3]
Nora: "I'll take nothing from a stranger."[L.693, Act 3]
In conclusion, there is a conflict within the character itself. Nora is divided between the sense of duty to themselves and her responsibilities towards her family. Torvald has always established the character of Nora as being stupid and unable to take decisions. Throughout the play, Torvald patronizes Nora and force her to act and look as it pleased him. Nora allowed Torvald to play with her and whatever the situation is Nora constantly remains like a "doll", i.e. she remains quite and always happy. She finally ends her doll-like life by leaving her house and the puppeteer (Torvald) to learn and explore on her own.
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