Friday, August 24, 2012

A Dolls House

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The play, “A Dolls House” was written by Henrik Ibsen. As one researcher put it, “Henrik Ibsen was known as the father of modern drama” (A Career in Drama 1661). He was boring in Skein, Norway in 188. Norway is a country under democratic Monarchy. Although Norway has no set religion, its people are mostly catholic (Wonders of Norway). Ibsen moved to Germany and Italy for 7 years. He was the director of the National Theater in Norway. Also, Ibsen is credited with the development of the realistic “problem play.” Henrik often uses realistic settings in his plays.

Women once led shallow lives, doomed to abide by everything their husbands commanded. They were expected to fulfill certain requirements and stick to the straight path of life as a female. This all changed as the play “A Dolls House,” accurately depicted one woman’s fight for liberation. The play begins by introducing a perfect family complete with a mother, father, and two sweet children. At first life seems to sail along flawlessly. After the play progresses, a world of pain, untruthfulness, and neglect emerges. Nora, mother of two children and wife to Torvald, has a secret she can’t let Torvald find out about. Towards the midpoint of the play, Nora finds herself between a rock and a hard place after one of Torvalds past employees’ uses blackmail to manipulate his way into a Job. In the end, Nora comes to the realization her life and marriage have never truly existed; and as a result leaves, in search of identity and liberation. Throughout the play, “A Dolls House” there is three distinct cases in which the need for women’s liberation can be observed. The first has to do with the hardships Nora experiences while trying to save her husband. The second example is seen in the pet names Torvald uses for Nora. The final situation in which the need presents itself can be seen when Torvald tries to control Nora’s behaviors.

In the first few opening lines of the play, Nora learns her husband has become ill. The only treatment available to rid Torvald of his disease was to travel south to a warmer climate. Knowing that Torvald was too tight with money, Nora took it upon herself to raise the funds needed for the trip. The laws at the time didn’t allow women to take out a loan with out a man’s consent. Nora had a hard time understanding the laws and restrictions of the time. Nora’s statements in the World Masterpieces literature book plainly illustrate the confusion. “A wife hasn’t the right to save her husbands life…” (51). Nora made the decision to forge her father’s signature in order to get the money.

Torvald uses pet names with Nora as a way to keep her under his control. During the play he identifies Nora his little lark; which suggests ownership over her. The web page Summary Central Torvald as saying, “My little songbird mustn’t droop her wings. What’s this? Is little squirrel sulking?” (56). I feel the names made Nora feel as though she needs Torvald to guide and care for her. Also, the name calling probably make Torvald feel as though he has a deeper relationship with his wife than he really does. As one article put it, “Ibsen uses Torvald’s famous pet names for Nora-lark, squirrel-to gibe her a “strong ‘animal’ identity” and to underscore her inability to understand the ethical issues faced by human beings” (The Demon in The House 45).

For the duration of the third act, Torvald is trying to control Nora’s actions. Before the big Christmas dance he tells Nora which dress she will wear and what dance she will perform. Throughout the entire play, Nora is being manipulated like a doll, thus the name a dolls house. She is expected to perform for her husband. At this point in the play I feel Nora must be feeling as though she is not truly loved. If Torvald justly loved Nora, he would have given Nora a chance to discuss the party situation.

Throughout the play it was apparent that women had much less power and far fewer rights than men. Nora struggled to gain respect and opposed the idea of fewer rights until the end of the play. The liberation of women was an extremely significant accomplishment. It allowed women equal rights as men. Without it women wouldn’t have the chance to make their own decisions.

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