In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House many views could be seen from both sides of the gender world. Critics will argue about the true meaning of the story and why Ibsen wrote the story. The main points of the play that critics discuss are sexuality i. e. feminism, the wrong doing of the father figure, and spiritual revolution. I believe these critics are each right in their own way from my understanding of the play and their ideas about the play.
Sexuality or, in the case of A Doll’s House, feminism plays a huge role in how Nora ends the play for the readers.
As I read through several criticisms of this play the main one that stuck out to me was how Nora was expected to bear children, keep her mouth shut, and do as Torvald said; so man rules and woman does as commanded. Nora didn’t see it that way she wanted to bring feminism to life and do for her and not of what was expected of her.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs describes of what Nora longs for, but not for her family but for herself and herself alone.
As Kristin Brunnemer states in her critical essay “self-actualization, as Maslow described it, involves “the need to fulfill one’s potential, to be what one can be” … Nora yearns for self-actualization, in her desire for education, for time to ‘think over things for [her]self’,”(Brunnemer). I have learned from reading of this play that she feels like she is worth nothing but his little play mate and is not truly loved by the man she has given everything up for.
She acts on the third stage of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which states, “…because of Torvald’s new job she seeks something greater than security: self-worth. While revealing Nora’s ‘need to feel that other people respect and recognize [her] as worthwhile’” (Brunnemer). Brunnemer’s analysis and criticism of the sexuality in this play fits so perfect to my reading of this play. She wants to feel loved and safe, while also wanting to feel like she is worth something great by being herself and not just as Torvald’s wife.
Brunnemer states that: Nora moving through the stages of the hierarchy, from physiological elements such as safety, love, and belonging, to the desire of esteem and self-actualization…’most behavior occurs in response to some kind of motivation…among different needs, or drives’ in her interactions with Kristine, Krogstad, Dr. Rank and, most especially, Torvald, Nora consistently shows how needs…are the key to her growing personal identity. She has learned that now she needs to worry about herself and do it all on her own because she has finally realized it’s all just been a game.
I find in my reading and this makes the most sense to me because I totally thought the same thing when I read the story, “realizing that they have only been play-acting the perfect marriage, Nora changes, symbolically, and prepares to leave Torvald and also tells him, ‘I went from papa’s hands into yours…and so I got the same taste as you- or pretended to…it’s a great sin what you and papa did to me. You’re to blame that nothings become of me[…] I’ve been your doll-wife here, just as at home I was papa’s doll-child’”(Brunnemer).
This shows how she has finally seen the light and is now leaving it all behind because she doesn’t want to be his doll she wants to be his equal. As a woman I see where she is coming from no woman wants to be a prized doll for their husband or father, they want to be loved and treated as his partner that’s beside him not below him. But not only is the problem of sexism a problem but the father figure himself has caused the uproar of the play A Doll’s House.
The way your father treats you in life as a child and an adult will follow with you for the rest of your life. If your father treats you wrong then you will treat others the same, if he is never around you will never be around for your own kids, if he doesn’t show you love and care then you will grow up not knowing how to show love and care to those that love you. Paul Rosefeldt explains how Mrs. Linde had the absent father in life and shaped the person she grew up to be, “Mrs. Linde…is the victim of an absent father.
To support her sick mother and her brothers…she married a man she did not love. The absence of her father forced her to seek a new father figure in a rich husband, but he too fails in the role. By depicting the father as absent or polluted, Ibsen defames the patriarchal figure” (Rosefeldt). A morally polluted father is the next type that is depicted in the play not only for Nils Krogstad but for Dr. Rank as well. I read that, “Nils Krogstad…he has committed forgery…he has covered up the crime…every breath he children take in [his home] is filled with the germs of something degenerate” (Rosefeldt). In those times fatherhood stood for everything that mattered in life and society. “Fatherhood is connected with a moral disease that will infect and destroy the lives of the children” (Rosefeldt). Paul Rosefeldt also explains that, “…because Rank’s father kept mistresses and contracted syphilis, Rank inherited the disease…must suffer for ‘somebody else’s sins’…fatherhood itself is connected to universal pollution” (Rosefeldt).
Nora is told several times she is just like her father which keeps on with the polluted father figure, “her carelessness about debt, Helmer states that she is ‘exactly the way your father was’…’all your father’s flimsy values have come out in you’…the father has passed on his corruption to his child. But the influence was also passed on to the husband” (Rosefeldt), making her feel like the doll-child and doll-wife again. But only one character has filled the position of the failed father figure, “Torvald Helmer is an example of a failed father. He has little to do with his children.
When the children come in, he states that the place is only fit for a mother…he too becomes a father of lies and disguise…” (Rosefeldt), which brings back sexuality of what the woman is supposed to do and what the father is supposed to do. Going from all that has happened to her and realizing the truth about her marriage Nora decides she needs to go and find herself and where she truly belongs at. “The very idea of self-transformation and redefinition is implicit… in the nineteenth century” (Errol Durbach), which Nora was bringing forth when she decided to leave her husband and figure out what, was best for herself.
She brings forth a new triumph in changing society when she drops her duties to go out and “find” herself. She gives women hope in having their own freedom just like men do. “Fifty years of cultural history-a mood of steadily increasing prosperity and optimism in the long peaceful European summer, strikingly countermanded by a sense of spiritual entropy and encroaching loss-are finally brought to a crisis in A Doll’s House” (Durbach).
By reading this play I learned and understood Nora’s reason for wanting to find herself; yes I disagree with her decision to leave behind her babies, yet back in that time it was the only way she could free herself from her so called husband. She brings selfhood alive so she can secure her freedom in life, “…the ‘miraculous’ is never synonymous with divine intervention or the discovery of selfhood as some essential abstraction.
Selfhood must first choose its existence, even at the risk of cancelling the vital roles that shape the old self-Nora…cancels role as mother and wife-and the new self must assume responsibility for shaping the consequences of a choice that secures her freedom at terrible cost” (Durbach). Nora’s actions change the generations of how society was made and worked in the nineteenth century she gave women a voice they never had. “Nora’s triumph is freeing herself from generations of social and intellectual conditioning…from the incarcerating thought process that strip her of self-worth, self-determination, and authentic selfhood” (Durbach).
She challenged society and their ways, she challenged women into being their selves not what their husbands wanted them to be, “in stepping out of her doll’s house, Nora also steps out of the historical context of the late nineteenth century into a challenging modernity, with its stringent demands upon those defenseless individuals who dare to strike out for freedom” (Durbach), she fought for something all women deserved; as all men was already receiving.
I learned that sometimes women have to makes choices like leaving their children to be able to make sure they don’t lose their self along the way. Each critic will have something different to say about everything that is written in our lifetime, but only certain critics can describe the truth about things that make sense in the actual story. I made sure that the critics I chose explained exactly what I felt and thought when I read the play A Doll’s House. They brought reality to what is only make believe on paper because the same things happen in real life to women everywhere in the world. My essay showed you what critics had to say about the sexuality, the father figure, and the spiritual revolution of this play.
- Brunnemer, Kristin. “Sexuality in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. ”New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 2009.
- Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Web. 5 Nov. 2012.
- Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll House. ” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 9th. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s Press, 1990. 1708-1757. Print.
- Rosefeldt, Paul. “Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House. ’(Henrik Ibsen)(Critical Essay). ” The Explicator 61. 2(2003): 84+.
- Literature Resource Center. Web. 5 Nov. 2012.
- “The Importance of the Work. ” A Doll’s House: Ibsen’s Myth of Transformation. Errol Durbach. Boston: Twayne, 1988. 9-12.
- Twayne’s Masterwork Studies 75. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 5 Nov. 2012.
- “The Spiritual Revolution. ” A Doll’s House: Ibsen’s Myth of Transformation. Errol Durbach. Boston: Twayne, 1988. 3-8.
- Twayne’s Masterwork Studies 75. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 5 Nov. 2012.
Cite this A Critics Opinion of a Doll’s House
A Critics Opinion of a Doll’s House. (2017, Jan 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/a-critics-opinion-of-a-dolls-house/