A critical look at Ibsen's "A Doll house"

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'A Doll's House' is classified under the 'second phase' of Henrik

Ibsen's career. It was during this period which he made the transition

from mythical and historical dramas to plays dealing with social problems.

It was the first in a series investigating the tensions of family life.

Written during the Victorian era, the controversial play featuring a female

protagonist seeking individuality stirred up more controversy than any of

his other works. In contrast to many dramas of Scandinavia in that time

which depicted the role of women as the comforter, helper, and supporter of

man, 'A Doll's House' introduced woman as having her own purposes and

goals. The heroine, Nora Helmer, progresses during the course of the play

eventually to realize that she must discontinue the role of a doll and seek

out her individuality.

David Thomas describes the initial image of Nora as that of a doll

wife who revels in the thought of luxuries that can now be afforded, who

is become with flirtation, and engages in childlike acts of disobedience

(259). This inferior role from which Nora progressed is extremely

important. Ibsen in his 'A Doll's House' depicts the role of women as

subordinate in order to emphasize the need to reform their role in society.

Definite characteristics of the women's subordinate role in a

relationship are emphasized through Nora's contradicting actions. Her

infatuation with luxuries such as expensive Christmas gifts contradicts her

resourcefulness in scrounging and buying cheap clothing; her defiance of

Torvald by eating forbidden Macaroons contradicts the submission of her

opinions, including the decision of which dance outfit to wear, to her

husband; and Nora's flirtatious nature contradicts her devotion to her

husband. These occurrences emphasize the facets of a relationship in

which women play a dependent role: finance, power, and love.