Many of our choices and the things one does in a lifetime can be directly basedon what society perceives to be proper. The choices one makes based onsocietys views, may sometimes have no logic to support them. These choicesare sometimes chosen because society would look down upon the person making thewrong decision. The values and morals upheld by a society may directlyaffect how one acts. This is held true for the character Nora in HenrikIbsens play A Doll House. Nora is the 19th century middle class wife ofTorvald Helmer.
She is a woman who is devoted to her husband and family. Noraminds her husband Torvald as a child would a father, and Torvald in returntreats her as a child, or as his doll. At the end of the play, Nora makesan epiphany realizing the way she acts and how Torvald really feels towards her.
The causes for Noras behavior can be attributed to her upbringing,societys views on what a womans role should be, and also Torvald, who alsohelps Nora in her epiphany.
The primary cause that affected Noras behavior asan adult, was Noras upbringing. Noras father treated her as hisdoll-child (1186, A Doll House; all page references refer to theclass text The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature 5th ed.) Her fathertold Nora all of his opinions, and in time these opinions became Norasopinions (1186). Torvald explains to Nora Exactly the way your father was(1144). Nora has in essence become her father by not having a mind of her own.
If her opinions differed, Nora would hide them because her father would not havecared for them (1186). Nora was sheltered from the world. Her father shapedNoras ideas and gave her his knowledge of how the world works The treatmentof Noras father may have been a result from how society viewed women in the19th century, which is the second cause for Noras behavior. Women were viewedas property of their husbands or fathers. This is a reason why the treatment ofNora as a doll by her father was not an issue. Nora was property of herfather, and expected to mind him, as a proper young lady should. Women didnthave any rights that were equal to a mans. According to Ibsen, inpractical life the woman is judged by mans law, as though she were not awoman but a man (1191, Notes for A Doll House). Men thought that sincea woman does not think or act like a man, then they are a lower being. Ibsenstates, A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which isan exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with a judicialsystem that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of view (1191,Notes for A Doll House). A man did not treat womens views as being ofany worth. A woman in the 19th century is obligated to her husband-to followmy (a mans) wishes in everything and to strictly obey my orders (1194,A Nineteenth-Century Husbands Letter to His Wife). Also as a woman, onewas subservient to men for financial reasons. A woman making her way on her onwas a hard road to take. There were very few jobs and society viewed these womenas delinquent and crazy. With this background of the gender roles in the 19thcentury, one can use it to understand Nora and why she acts the way she does inIbsens A Doll House. It was unheard of for a woman not to mind herhusband or father. Nora is loyal to her husband and family the way any 19thcentury wife would be. Noras husband Torvald is another cause for Norasbehavior. Nora has been dependent on men most of her life. The dependency wastaken from her father and put upon her husband Torvald once the two weremarried. Noras relationship with Torvald can be characterized as a form ofenslavement (or) master-slave, male-female, (and) sexualobjectification (1196, A Marxist Approach to A Doll House). Noragets into a relationship where she is treated the same way her father treatedher, as a doll. She takes on the standard role of a 19th century woman.
Nora doesnt think for herself. She minds Torvald as if he was her father.
Torvald doesnt want her to eat any sweets, like macaroons. He expresses thiswhen he says to Nora, Surely my sweet tooth hasnt been running a riot intown today, has she? (1145, A Doll House). Nora tells him, NoTorvald, I assure your, really- (1145, A Doll House). Nora tells herhusband that she hasnt been eating macaroons when she really has. She triesto hide things from Torvald, just as she did from her father when their opinionsconflicted. This shows that Torvald has the strict upper hand. Nora doesnttell Torvald about the macaroons because she believes Torvald may know what isbest for her. Nora also keeps her thoughts to herself because she was nevertaught to have her own opinions and she believes in the societys view that awoman should mind her husband. Another example that causes Nora to obey herhusband is in the way he talks down to her. The talking down is expressed by thenames in which Torvald refers to Nora. These names consist of hissquirrel, lark, and spendthrift (1143-44). The names Torvaldcalls Nora are meant to be loving, but actually emphasize Noras role as awoman in the 19th century. Torvald also keeps Nora out of his money matters andbusiness. This causes Nora to be dependent on Torvald economically. Thetreatment of Nora by Torvald causes her to mind Torvald, the way she always has.
Torvald is the man to accredit Noras epiphany to. The epiphany is caused bythe uproar he has towards the end of the play. Nora realizes what her life isabout. Torvald finds out that Nora had forged her fathers signature and theresults from it. He yells at Nora saying, Now youve wrecked all myhappiness ruined my whole future Ill be swept down miserably into thedepths on account of a featherbrained woman (1184). Torvald puts Nora down bycalling her, a hypocrite, a liar worse, worse a criminal! (1184).
Torvald goes on to criticize Nora by exclaiming, How infinitely disgusting itall is! The shameI should have known. All of your fathers flimsy valueshave come out in you. No religion, no morals, no sense of duty- Oh, how Impunished for letting him off! I did it for your sake, and you repay me likethis (1184). After the letter arrives from Krogstad reporting that everythingwas going to be fine, Torvald calms down. Torvald tells Nora, Im saved.
Nora Im saved (1184). Nora asks what about her. Torvald replies,Were both saved, then goes on to tell Nora that he has forgiven her.
Nora realizes and tells Torvald You never loved me. Youve only though itwas fun to be in love with (1186). She realizes that she is Torvaldsplay doll just as she was towards her father. Nora says to Torvald Youarranged everything to your own taste, and so I got the same taste as you orpretended toNow when I look back, it seems as if Id lived here like abeggar Ive lived by doing tricks for you. But thats the way you wantedit. Its a great sin what you and Papa did to me. Youre to blame thatnothings become of me (1186). Nora realizes she has no opinions of herown. She has just taken on the ones of the male figure in her life. Her epiphanycauses her to leave her husband and their children. Nora decides she needs tofinally educate herself (1187). She cannot take on the duties of a wifeand mother until she finds out who she is and what she really wants. I haveto stand completely alone, if Im ever going to discover myself and the worldout there (1187). I have to think over these things myself and try tounderstand them (1187). Nora has finally made a decision for herself. This isthe beginning or the coming out party for Nora. She is now free of Torvaldscontinuous doll-like treatment, and also she is free of her own dependencyon a male. Each of the events in Noras life were direct causes to herbehavior, and finally to her epiphany. One thing led to another. First herfather treated her as a doll, then Torvald treated her this way.
Societys view of a womans role in the 19th century caused this treatmentby Noras father and Torvald. Noras minding of Torvald and her father iscaused by her treatment. This epiphany Nora has is the best thing that couldhave happened to her. Everything that happened in her life was a stepping stoneor a direct cause to her epiphany. She may have not have realized how she reallybehaved if Torvald never got upset with her. In a way he did her a favor bytreating her the way he did. Now Nora can live her life and find out who shereally is.
Cite this Doll House By Henrik Ibsen
Doll House By Henrik Ibsen. (2019, Apr 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/doll-house-by-henrik-ibsen/