When thought has brought revolutionary ideas by exposing masculine

When Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’

s House was first published in 1879, itwas a coming of age
play that dealt with the lives and anxieties of thebourgeoisie women in Victorian
Norway. Feminism is the dominant theme,as Ibsen investigated the tragedy of
being born as a bourgeoisie female ina society ruled by a patriarchal law. If
examined more closely, one can findtraces of Marxist Ideology and other schools
of thought. The first thing that Iam going to start with is shedding light on
the feminist attributes that thisplay is throbbing with and try to see it with
the eyes of feminist writers likeSimone de Beauvoir, Michel Foucault and other
feminist writers. Thefeminist school of thought has brought revolutionary ideas
by exposing

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masculine stereotypes, revaluating women’s roles in soci

ety, studying

women’s cultural and historical background, studying female
literature, and

criticizing social sexist values.

(10)

The revolutionary spirit and the emergence of modernism

influenced Ibsen’s choice to focus on an unlikely hero, a h

ousewife, in hisattack on middle-class values. Quickly
becoming the talk of parlors acrossEurope, the play succeeded in its attempt to
provoke discussion. In fact, itis the numerous ways that the play can be read
and interpreted that makethe play so interesting. Each new generation has had a
different way ofinterpreting the book, from seeing it as feminist critique to
taking it as a

 

Hegelian allegory of the spirit’s historical evolution. This
richness is another

sign of its greatness.

(11)

 The character of Nora
Helmer is a great portrayal of women wholive in a society that is dominated by
men. In which the male controles thefemale and treat her as a mere dole. Nora
is that doll that live in a doll’shouse. It can be argued that the character of
Nora and some othercharacters in

A Doll’s House

are an image of “the second sex” or
the”other” as discussed by Simone de Beauvoir in her well-known
essay,

TheSecond Sex

. De Beauvoir argues that throughout history, woman has

been viewed as a “hindrance or a prison”. Aristotle also
said,” The female is

a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities. We should
regard the

female nature as afflicted with a natural defectiveness.”
Woman is always

depicted as secondary to man. She does not exist as an entity
by herself

but as the “Other”.

Nora is seen by her husband as merely a “little
skylark”, a “song

bird”, a “squirrel”, a “scatterbrain”, or as a
“doll”. He plays with her exactly

as a child plays with her doll. Nora has always been regarded
by her fatheras the other. Then she became an adult and moved to her
husband’shouse; he treated her as a possession not as a human. This is clear in

Nora’s statement: “When I lived at home with Daddy, he fed me
all his

opinions, until they became my

opinions. Or if they didn’t, I kept quiet aboutit because I
knew he wouldn’t have liked it. He used to call me his

doll-child, and he played with me the way I used to play with
my dolls. And

when… Daddy handed me over to you. You arranged everything
acco

rding

to your taste, and I adapted my taste to yours… Now, looking
back, I feelas if I’ve lived a beggar’s life—from hand to mouth.”

(12)

 

Towards the end of the play, Nora realizes that it is time
that she

regained her status as being the “One”

after a long time of submission,

which established her role as the “Other”. Nora has been
taught not to

take but to receive. She has gained only what her husband and
father have

been willing to grant her. In this sense, Nora’s domestic
life in such a

patriarchal society is just a reflection of the middle class
women of her time

that De Beauvoir depicted vividly in her essay. “They live
dispersed among

 

the males, attached through residence, housework, economic
condition,and social standing to certain men

fathers or husbands

more firmly thanthey are to other women. If they belong to
the bourgeoisie, they feel

solidarity with men of that class, not with proletarian
women.” Nora’sbiggest fear is her husband hearing that she had forged her
father’s

signature to get the loan, which she needed to travel to
Italy. Her motives

were absolutely selfless because that trip saved her sick
husband’s life.Nora knew that the revelation would have put her husband’s
reputation at

stake, but she felt deep inside that her husband would
sacrifice hisreputation to defend her as soon as he came to know that she did
that tosave his life. That feeling tormented her to the extent that she
contemplated

suicide. She is not worth her husband’s nobility! She is not
even good

enough

to be a mother! Didn’t her husband tell her that “all young
criminalshave had dishonest mothers because it’s usually the
mother’sresponsibility”? Despite her great sacrifice driven by her love for her

husband, Nora agrees that she is a bad influence on her
children. Sheeven decides to isolate herself from her kids and let the
nursemaid take

care of them fully. We can hear her saying to herself,
“Corrupt my children.Poison my home. It’s not true. It could never be true.”
This proves to us that

Nora is ve

ry pleased with her role as the “Other”.

(13)

Yet, the doll house is shattered as well as Nora’s illusion.
The doll finally recognizes that her role has been nothing but the “Other”. She
is

aware that it is she who agreed to the definition of the
“One” and the “Other”. It’s a moment of profound awakening when Nora realizes
that her

husband values his reputation and job more than he values his
love for her.

Torvalds’s resentment and accusations after knowing about
what she had

done comes as a blessing

sing in disguise. We hear Torvald telling her, “For all these
years, for eight years now, you’ve been my pride and joy, and now I find you’re
a hypocrite and a liar, and worse, worse than that…a criminal!

The whole thing is an abyss of ugliness! You ought

to be ashamed.”

Simone de Beauvoir says that if the woman seems to be the
inessential which never becomes the essential, it is because she herself fails
to bring about the change. But here we tell De Beauvoir that Nora is willing to
bring about the change. The harsh reality smacks her in the face; a wave of disillusionment
wakes her up. She decides bravely to abandon her family toe scape the
restrictive confines of the patriarchal society she lives in. She is resolved
to go out into the world and gain real experience. She is

 

determined to think out everything for herself and be able to
make her own decisions

.

“I believe
that before anything else, I’m a human being, just as much of as you are…or at
least I’m going to try to turn myself into one,”

Nora tells Torvald in a moment of self-realization. This has
been the

woman’s quest throughout history. Nora Helmer in A Doll’s
House triumphs

over all obstacles and finally recognizes her duty towards
herself which hadalways been neglected. Yet, many more women still continue to
shatter thecollars of gender anxiety and enslavement placed by the masculine
worldaround their necks.