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The Role of Women in A Doll’s House

The play A Doll’s House was written in 1879 by Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian writer born in 1828. It spread to the rest of Europe during the revolution period and sparked off a controversy because of his portrayal of women through the character Nora. The thesis of this essay is that women, just like men, should be given their due right irrespective of their gender. This will be done by looking at the characters Nora and Mrs. Linde.

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During the revolution, women could not work as men and had to rely on the males to provide for them. They had no right to get loans without the approval of a male and Nora had to result to forgery to get a loan to pay for her husband’s treatment. She worked very hard to repay it by making some sacrifices and writing to earn some money, “It was exhausting. But it was thrilling too, to be sitting there working, earning money. Almost like a man” (Ibsen 28). The society was structured such that the males provided for the women and the women became homemakers.

Nora was seeking self-discovery. She did not know what she wanted or liked in life. When she was young she did everything to please her father and agreed with all his opinions and when she did not she concealed it. In act three Nora says, “He called me his doll-child and he played with me just as I used to play with my dolls”(Ibsen 142). After she got married to Torvald, she got the same treatment. “And when I came to live with you- I mean that I was simply transferred from papa’s hands into yours” (Ibsen 142). Her husband did everything according to his taste which she had to adapt. He treated her like a child and wanted her to fully depend on him. In addition, he called her pet names like ‘my little squirrel’ and did not speak to her with mutual respect. Therefore, by Nora choosing to go her way at the end of the play she portrayed that a woman can stand up on her own. She had lived her life for her father and husband for a long time and this was her time to live for herself as she said “Our home has been nothing but a play-room. I’ve been your doll-wife here, just as at home I was Papa’s doll-child. And the children have been my dolls in their turn” (Ibsen142).

Women sacrifice their lives for men. Just like Nora married Torvald to be pampered and be provided for, Mrs. Linde married her husband for the money he could provide her at the expense of her happiness because her true love was Krogstad but he did not have enough money to take care of her ailing mother and brothers (Ibsen 20). In her marriage, she is not happy as her husband becomes broke and later dies leaving her penniless. These women have been forced to forsake their ambitions and desires for others, later they reclaim their dreams and self-realization.

Nora had existed to please men all her life. She had done this because she had allowed the men in her life to run her life. She was now ready to start taking control of her life when she discovered that her marriage was a charade; her husband could not stand by her when he discovered her forgery to get a loan. She says “I have been performing tricks on you, Torvald. That’s how I’ve survived. You wanted it like that. You and Papa have done me a great wrong. It’s because of you that I have made nothing of my life” (Ibsen 142). Nora is ready to develop as an adult because she had been denied the chance to do so by the men in her life and the society at large.

Through the decisions they make the women have a new lease of life. I think Ibsen was saying that women need to be treated equally to men. They should be allowed to grow, discover themselves, and even become financially stable as this would save them from undue heartaches by being with men they did not truly love or those who treated them wrong. In my opinion, Ibsen in creating a strong woman protagonist was saying that women too can stand on their own. More importantly, it is only the women who can stand up for their rights they will not be delivered on a silver platter.

Works cited

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. Washington DC, Plain Label Books, 1923. Web.

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