The main themes of the movie A Doll’s House are institutionalized sexism, misogyny, and women’s role in patriarchal systems. The story’s main character Nora was living a seemingly perfect life, but throughout the storyline, she came to the realization that she was a mere “doll” in her husband’s eyes. In addition, the movie presents how underappreciated the feminine role is in the patriarchal family system. The husband, Torvald, continuously disrespects and disregards Nora’s life-saving actions. The story’s main point of resolution is when Nora stands up for herself and leaves Torvald, thus, she gains her independence back.
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Torvald is a primary example of a misogynistic individual who perceives women, such as his wife, as an object or a doll. For instance, during the cuddling scene, Torvald hugs his wife and says: “A stubborn little girl like you, who is in need for a savior” (“A Doll’s House 1973 Anthony Hopkins, Based on the Ibsen Play” 00:26:54). The given quote reveals the true nature of their relationship, where Torvald openly tells his wife, Nora, that she is below him.
It also shows the viewers that misogyny can take place even in the most stable and seemingly loving families. In addition, the quote demonstrates that Torvald considers himself as Nora’s “savior,” which undermines her independence, thus, promoting a patriarchal family structure.
Many people believe that society no longer contains humiliation by gender, that there are no longer any stereotypes and convictions. It would seem that the topic of women in society is not new, the struggle for equal rights with men has been going on throughout the history of humanity, and much has been achieved during this time. Every day, women are faced with gender stereotypes such as girls playing dolls, boys in cars.
Women can avoid reading magazines and watching TV, minimize their time on social media, but they will still find ads that use flirting techniques, where a woman acts not as a subject, but only as an object of male lust. This is usually a naked body, outspoken, provocative clothing, and all this is the usual background of modern life.
Many still consider the traditional division of gender roles to be the norm, and those who are dissatisfied with such a situation are often accused of allegedly ignoring fundamental issues and finding fault with trifles. All these diverse manifestations are united by the ideology of sexism, which opposes men and women and affirms the superiority of men over women, thereby justifying gender inequality. If patriarchy is understood as such a way of organizing a society in which men have power over women, then sexism is a consequence of patriarchy.
In the first half of the movie, before Nora stands up for herself, she is a submissive individual, who can be considered as one of the key encouragers of the given misogynistic system. For instance, Nora says: “You know very well I can’t manage without you” (“A Doll’s House 1973 Anthony Hopkins, Based on the Ibsen Play” 00:26:58). The mentioned quote implies that Nora is also promoting the given patriarchal family structure by being submissive and allowing her husband to treat her in such away. It shows that women can play a significant part in both fighting and advancing misogynistic values, which results in a disregarded female population. Therefore, it is clear that it is up to Nora to stand up for herself and change these institutionalized patriarchal social systems.
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Sexism manifests itself in various areas of social life, in particular, family, education, healthcare, religion, and is present in multiple fields, such as politics, economics, the media, art, and language. A major role in solving the problem of gender inequality is played by training men and women in the same programs on equal terms. One of the basic requirements of the women’s movement was the right of women to education equal to men.
Currently, women have the opportunity to exercise their right to education, but this area is still not free from discrimination against women. The ability to produce offspring could not but have a significant impact on society’s perception of motherhood as the natural destiny of women. However, in addition to this, there are many professions that are not on this list, which are often also inaccessible to women.
The world found itself in a situation where female labor is completely worthless. Some women prefer to look for work outside the organized labor market or go to the household. Thus, until they all begin to do approximately the same thing or redefine their attitude to the work that is considered “female,” there will be no improvement. There is also the problem that women themselves oppress themselves, that is, women were forced to submit to an unequal, disrespectful attitude, and they refused resistance. Women themselves promote oppression, that is, they behave as weak, passive, and dependent, and therefore, men, with all desire, cannot treat them as equals.
Throughout the movie, Torvald is mainly represented as a respectful, caring, and loving husband, but during the scene, when he argues with Nora about the letter, he shows his true misogynistic side. For example, just before hitting Nora, he states: “Do you realize what you have done to me? You’re a stupid woman” (“A Doll’s House 1973 Anthony Hopkins, Based on the Ibsen Play” 01:10:57).
The given quote is an excellent representation of Torvald’s disrespect towards not only Nora but also women in general. He shows no regard for the support and assistance that Nora had given him through their marriage due to the fact that Torvald considers himself as the only independent person of the family. In addition, the quote is followed by a slap on Nora’s cheek, which demonstrates Torvald’s true misogynistic nature.
Society is structured in such a way that women initially get a picture of where the man is strong, and the woman is weak. Therefore, in order to equalize her rights, a woman must become strong, that is, wear trousers or look like a man. However, it should be noted that feminism is not about equality, but about the liberation of women from oppression by men. To the extent that there are special legal restrictions for women, there must be special women’s organizations in order to destroy these restrictions and at the same time, destroy the isolation of the sexes. But for the desire for independence, reproaches of feminism are pouring on her.
After all, feminists call those rebels who, reckoning with historical facts, do not believe in programs, words, and promises and independently want to achieve their rights. The rule of law of men developed in them selfishness, cruelty, abuse of brute force, arrogance, and conceit, which reaches megalomania. Legal slavery of a woman has grown in her humility to fate, slavish obsequiousness, envy, cunning, deceit, and the complete lack of dignity of her personality as a woman.
People need to understand that you cannot transfer the blame for such laws only to men. Often, the discussion of this topic is particularly irritating for women. One of the important tasks is to make it clear to individuals and all women that women’s low social, economic, and sexual status is not the result of some natural inferiority. It comes from tangible, recognizable, analyzed oppression, even if it takes on sophisticated forms.
However, women should not stop there and overcoming self-accusation, and the emergence of self-esteem is not the end of oppression. The goal is not to blame other women or themselves for passivity, weakness, dependence, or any other qualities demonstrated by women, and not to gain courage for individual feats. This case is to form an idea of liberation and prepare for the fact that we, with the help of women’s collective strength, will finally end male domination in all areas. The struggle of a woman for her rights and her freedom is a struggle for the happiness of both sexes.
In conclusion, the primary themes of the given movie are misogyny, sexism, and feminine independence. The relationship between Nora and Torvald is a clear demonstration and the result of the institutionalized patriarchal family system. Being a good and decent husband does not eliminate the fact that Torvald is highly sexist and misogynistic not only towards his wife but to all women. In addition, at the beginning of the movie, Nora shows that the given system is also promoted by women themselves, who do not fight misogyny, but instead, encourage it. This type of patriarchal family structure inevitably leads to limited female independence, which results in men treating women as “dolls,” thus, it is highly harmful to society.
“A Doll’s House 1973 Anthony Hopkins, Based on the Ibsen Play.” YouTube, uploaded by Minnie Paramitha. 2016. Web.