A Doll’s House Research Paper Essay Example
A Doll’s House Research Paper Essay Example

A Doll’s House Research Paper Essay Example

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A Doll’s House, a play by Henrik Ibsen, tells the story of Nora, a young married woman who assumes a deceptive and self-indulgent role. Throughout the play, Ibsen sheds light on societal expectations for women through Nora's portrayal as an ordinary housewife responsible for maintaining the household and caring for the children. This embodies the stereotype of women being unable to contribute to society. However, Nora defies this depiction as she hires a maid to handle household chores and childcare. Despite Ibsen highlighting Nora's "housewife" traits, her character possesses ambition, naivety, and a certain level of cunning.

Nora conceals a major secret from her spouse, which includes both taking money and forging papers. In the play, Nora's choice to keep everything hidden went against reason and resulted in mishandling of the circumstances. The societal view of women


during that time created an insurmountable obstacle for her. The decisions she made, despite their potentially positive nature, proved to be morally detestable. Women should possess equal rights as men and should not encounter gender-based discrimination. However, they should still be accountable for their actions and receive impartial punishment without favoring leniency or harshness.

At the beginning of the play, Nora appears humble and responds positively to her husband's humor and lightheartedness. Nora smiles quietly and happily as she says, "You haven't any idea how many expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald." Her husband, Torvald, responds by calling her an odd little soul and comparing her to her father, stating that she always finds new ways to get money from him (Ibsen, pg. 8). Ibsen portrays the wife in this play as doll-like in the eyes of her husband,

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emphasizing his view of human life being highly biased towards men. According to Jaeger, Nora is expected to only live for her husband's sake, having no thoughts, feelings, or opinions of her own except those that align with his (Jaeger, Henrik Bernhard).

According to Henrik Ibsen: A Critical Biography by Benjamin Blom, inc., New York 1972 (pg 240), Nora is thrilled about the financial prospects that Torvald's new job will bring. This becomes a recurring theme throughout the play, as money plays a role in each act. This showcases how money has the ability to alter and impact the family dynamics. While money can be replaced and holds value only in currency, the importance of valuing one's family should be prioritized. Although Nora loves her children, she does not give them much attention and relies heavily on the nanny for their care.

Nora's primary focus is obtaining enough money to pay off her debt while also enjoying the excitement of buying things. As the play progresses, she reveals a dark secret that burdens her life and exposes a web of lies and deceit. She expresses her distress at the thought of her husband discovering her secret in such a clumsy and ugly manner, rather than hearing it from her. Nora chooses to deceive her husband about both money and her secret meetings with Krogstad. Additionally, she even lies about eating macaroons, a matter that only concerns herself. During that time period, Nora accumulates a significant amount of debt.

The fact that she comprehends the intricacies of borrowing money and committing forgery demonstrates her intelligence and skills that go beyond her apparent femininity. This may be an uncommon trait

or perhaps even a naivety on the man's part, which exposes a weakness in their dominance. She willingly puts her life at risk by breaking the law to save her husband's life. This act requires immense courage and charisma, qualities that surpass her existence as a submissive housewife. "In such a marriage Nora cannot become a human being; she remains, and must remain, a mere doll" (Henrik Ibsen: A Critical Biography, Pg. 44). Despite Krogstad's blackmail and threats to ruin everything she, as a woman, has to offer, she resolutely refuses to change her mind. Both Torvald, her father figure, and society have imposed strict expectations on Nora. This compels her to masquerade as someone she is not. This is where feminism plays a significant role in the play; Nora should not be perceived as someone insignificant to society. All individuals, regardless of gender, are created equal and should be treated as such. However, Nora breaks the law and deceives her husband.

It is argued that Nora should face the same punishment as men did in her time. According to Henrik Ibsen's biography, her outstanding quality was her willingness to sacrifice everything for her loved one. The notion of a woman committing the same offenses as men was unheard of. Nora was able to avoid suspicion and escape prosecution for forgery because no one expected a woman to engage in such acts. She cleverly exploited this loophole, allowing her to commit the crime without justification.

The human mind possesses the capability to make choices and rationalize thoughts. Although influenced by gender, our choices primarily depend on the effectiveness of others. Nora made decisions to benefit her husband,

yet she must deceive him and others involved. According to Ibsen, such an atmosphere of lies contaminates and corrupts a home's entire existence. Breathing in this environment, even the children are exposed to evil. Thus, prioritizing her husband's health and life outweighs a handful of lies.

Nevertheless, Nora's commitment to her husband is evident in her choice to defy the law. This decision not only showcases her dedication to their relationship but also highlights her longing for independence and the opportunity to establish herself financially and socially. Unfortunately, Krogstad's interference prevents her from pursuing these aspirations, leaving her once again exploited. Despite sacrificing her own happiness, reputation, and self-respect, Nora's actions serve as a poignant testament of her profound love for her spouse. Consequently, she lives in a state of subjugation - thinking like an immature individual and subjecting herself to mistreatment.

When a woman wholeheartedly admires and trusts her husband, their life proceeds smoothly. However, if she loses trust and admiration and discovers the true nature of the man she has made sacrifices for, her life reaches a critical point. This crisis could have been prevented if she had been able to openly communicate with her husband, just like any ordinary married individual. Mistakes are inevitable as nobody is flawless. Nora was fully aware that her actions were unquestionably wrong.

Nora's need for her husband's support outweighs her fear of him, and it is crucial that the consequences she faces for her actions are equitable to those faced by a man. While her reputation may be impacted, it should not reach the extent where people cannot fathom that a woman could commit such a cataclysmic act. Nora's

spouse, Torvald, embodies the ideal masculine figure of the period, providing prosperity and assuming control over the household. However, despite his apparent success, Torvald is feeble and easily rattled by scandals. He remains oblivious to Nora's true capabilities and dismisses her hidden life. Throughout the play, he employs derogatory pet names when addressing her, treating her as an object rather than recognizing her societal significance. He diminishes her comprehension of the world she inhabits, asserting that she speaks like a child. Torvald's reaction to his wife's abilities is unexpected and irrational since he never anticipates her actions. This response was typical during that era, highlighting society's expectation for men to assert their dominance. The fact that she outwits him is especially humiliating for him, prompting him to react illogically in order to preserve his masculinity and avoid embarrassment from both his wife and peers.

Despite the prevailing belief among men that being defeated by a woman is highly humiliating, women in our society have achieved almost everything that men can. However, Krogstad stands in stark contrast to Torvald as he lacks a successful career, a wife, or any power. His only advantage over Torvald lies in his knowledge of Nora's secret about her money. In order to survive, he does everything within his capabilities to oppose her. Nora's immediate distress is evident through her tone when she exclaims, "You? What is it? What do you want with my husband?" (Drama of Ibsen and Strindberg, pg. 139).

Throughout the play, Krogstad intentionally inflicts anxiety and pain on Nora, ultimately even resorting to the possibility of her death, in order to achieve his desires. By viewing himself as superior

to women, Krogstad exploits Nora's actions as a means of advancing his own life. This mentality persists consistently throughout the play. Krogstad takes advantage of Nora's vulnerability to blackmail her into securing him a job with her husband and providing him with a better life. He believes he can exploit her without consequence, regardless of the circumstances. As stated by Ibsen (pg 34), "No, it is Christmas Eve, and it will depend on yourself what sort of Christmas you will spend."

The text emphasizes that Krogstad's lack of morality is exemplified by his selfish warning to ruin her Christmas, but it also demonstrates his perseverance and unwillingness to surrender. His unrepentant nature without a conscience is portrayed through his negative role in the play. The ongoing struggle for gender equality, which has been propelled by centuries of prejudice, has resulted in the rise of countless feminists globally. Susan B.

Anthony, a prominent figure in history, advocated for women's rights and challenged society's unfair treatment of women. She envisioned a future where success would be determined solely by a person's abilities, honor, and character, regardless of gender (source).

In modern households, society assigns predefined roles to men and women, expecting them to conform in order to maintain harmony. However, there are still instances where wives are treated as pets while husbands are treated as pack-asses (Drama of Ibsen and Strindberg, pg 130). The question arises: what is the value of freedom if we cannot experience it within our own homes?

A balanced distribution of power in relationships is essential; when one person denies certain rights to the other, divorces become common among couples. The oppressed individual eventually becomes weary of

feeling suffocated and reduced to nothing more than a "doll" in public.

In the past, divorce was uncommon and women had limited ability to leave even if they wished to. Merely being in love with someone is insufficient to sustain a relationship, whether it is acknowledged or acted upon. It was not until the 1920's that women gained suffrage rights, and both male and female votes were finally considered equal. However, World War I temporarily interrupted the suffrage movement, causing some suffragists to prioritize war efforts over activism. In retrospect, this decision proved wise as it further highlighted the significance of women's voting rights. Allowing women to vote ensures a more fair representation of a campaign's outcome. The leader of any campaign should be chosen by all American citizens rather than solely by men; otherwise, the campaign result would be significantly altered and deceive us Americans.

In a fair election, we prefer a potential leader to lose rather than cheating denying us our freedom. As a free nation, America should never permit the unconstitutional act of depriving a true American their voting rights. Although women may lack physical strength compared to men, their mental capacities and thinking abilities are quite similar. In fact, they are so comparable that it is unjust for men to receive preference in higher-paying jobs when women possess equal qualifications. These instances of inequality persist today as they did centuries ago. It is conceivable that women will forever be perceived as inferior beings.

In spite of Nora's capability, men in her society underestimated her and failed to recognize her true potential. According to a study by Jodi L. Jacobson from World Watch Institute, it

is observed that while men are more likely to earn cash income, they are less inclined to spend it on family needs such as food, shelter, clothes, and healthcare. This unequal distribution of resources often keeps families trapped in poverty (Gender Bias: Roadblock to sustainable development; Jacobson, Jodi L.; World Watch Institute, 1776 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington D.C., 20036-1904; 02-11-2005). Nora had the capability to hold a similar job as her husband and be financially independent.

Instead of relying on her husband, Nora should strive to earn her own money honestly and independently as a free American. She ought to pursue a lucrative job in town rather than resorting to criminal acts that betray her loved ones. If her father were aware that she had forged his signature, he would have been repulsed. It is essential for Nora to possess the freedom to enter the bank and lawfully sign off for her father in order to secure the funds and save her husband's well-being. Nevertheless, Torvald's dominant masculinity obstructs any chance of this becoming feasible.

His simplistic beliefs hinder any woman's ability to care for him in the way that a "man deserves." He is willing to compromise his own well-being to prove his supposed dominance over his partner and die with dignity. The notion of feminism in modern society is regarded as nonsensical and absurd. Our current world is still burdened by discrimination, racism, feminism, and other related issues. Very little has truly changed throughout our human history except for certain legislations and constitutional rights. Our world would become more ideal if humanity could somehow experience an event that enables us to recognize that the person

next to us, irrespective of their gender or race, is fundamentally no different from ourselves.

Life is too short to live like a "doll" due to your husband's trivial and mind-numbingly ignorant views on women. Some men willingly prioritize their superiority over their wives, but there will always be other men who challenge stereotypes and work towards creating a better world of coexistence.

  1. Lucas, Frank Lawrence. The Drama of Ibsen and Strindberg. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1962. Print.
  2. Jaegar, Henrik. Henrik Ibsen: A Critical Biography.

New York: Benjamin Blom, Inc. 1972. Print. 3. Jacobson, Jodi L. Gender Bias: Roadblock to Sustainable Development World-watch Institute. 1776 Massachusetts Ave., N. W. Washington, D. C. 20036-1904. Copyright 2005.

4. http://www.rochester.edu/SBA/100years/index.html. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership at the University of Rochester. All rights reserved. Site Design by Windsor Street Design Associates, 2008. 546 Main Street, Rockland, ME 04841.

5. Barber, Susan E. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/naw/nawstime.html One Hundred Years toward Suffrage: An Overview.

National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, 1848-1921. Copyright 19 October 1998. Annotated Bibliography 1. The drama of Ibsen and Strindberg provided valuable critical analysis of A Doll’s House, aiding my understanding of Ibsen’s views. This external source enabled me to readily access factual information and normative statements, facilitating a smoother writing process for my essay. The objective of this book is to deconstruct the components and delve into the author’s perspective, promoting both comprehension and critical evaluation.

By providing new information and insights, Henrik Ibsen: A Critical Biography helped me reevaluate my perception of the author and hopefully improve the accuracy of my knowledge. This source delves into Ibsen's personal life and explores how he incorporated it into his writings. Learning about his

childhood memories and gaining more insight into his life helped me comprehend the motivations behind his work. It was intriguing to discover that Nora was actually based on a real person named Laura, although I couldn't discern why he didn't simply use the name Laura.

This book was a valuable representation and likely one of my top sources to utilize, causing me difficulty in selecting which quotes to include due to an abundance of options. 3. Gender Bias: Roadblock to Sustainable Development served as an exceptional resource for examining bias and discrimination against women. It highlighted hypothetical scenarios within families where only one parent or both parents assume identical roles. Many of these situations proved disastrous, prompting me to recognize the importance of both parents in our lives. This book truly made me reconsider the capabilities of women and emphasized that they should not be underestimated.

This source was helpful in one section of my essay but not useful for any other section. However, I am grateful that I discovered it because it made a strong point in my writing. The Anthony Center for Women's Leadership at the University of Rochester provided valuable information and direct quotes about women's rights activism, particularly featuring the renowned Susan B. Anthony. I found an amazing quote that fit perfectly with my topic. It is important to be aware of significant moments in our nation's history and the individuals who fought for freedom.

Susan E. Barber's website provided me with a new perspective on the emotions experienced by women who are exploited, increasing my awareness of my own biases. Furthermore, Barber compiled a comprehensive timeline that chronicles women's history over the past

century. The website showcased numerous quotes that provoked deep thought, making it challenging for me to select just a few. Although I am satisfied with my choices, I do regret not being able to include more. This journey into the realm of women's rights history has exceeded my expectations and enabled me to cultivate previously unfamiliar viewpoints.

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