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Position of Women in Society in a Doll's House - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Class April 8, 2012 Position of Women in Society in A Doll’s House “The dominant way of thinking gender in the nineteenth century was to understand it as a gift from God,” Langas argues (148). An important Norwegian spokesperson of this outlook was the theologian Marcus Jacob Monrad, who was a foremost Hegelian philosopher and literary critic…
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Position of Women in Society in a Dolls House
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"Position of Women in Society in a Doll's House"

Download file to see previous pages In A Doll’s House, Ibsen explores the realism of women’s social position. Nora enjoys a doll’s roles and attitudes, until she learns that a doll’s life is neither appealing nor fulfilling. This paper analyzes the symbolisms and theme of A Doll’s House. Symbolisms, as well as Nora’s and Torvald’s characters, depict the theme of women’s position in society as dolls, which Nora reverses as she reclaims her humanity. One of the strongest symbolisms in the play is the house, which represents the only private space where women actively work, but also remain duly suppressed as genuine actors of society. The title itself talks about a doll’s house. Nora seems to be playing the lead role, since girls play with dolls and she is seen as a mere girl by all men in her life. But Kashdan underscores that she is not an actor, but a doll inside this house, where men see women as: “…dolls to be housed in toy mansions and be indulged, but only sparingly” (Kashdan 3). Nora is one of the dolls in society that must be controlled. Men are the ones who do the controlling. When they marry, they treat their wives like dolls that they put into their houses. Men, as traditional breadwinners, own these houses. They are masters, while their wives are followers, most often than not, they are slaves. Before, Nora enjoys being in this house. The house stands for her feminine domestic duties, which she dutifully follows. Gillian Brown calls this as the “domestic cult of true womanhood” (Lee 623). Nora’s main goal is to create and maintain a “beautiful, happy home” (Ibsen Act 1). Later on, Nora becomes the breadwinner of the house to make ends meet- a gender role reversal. She is supposed to stay inside the house, a prisoner of the private space where women can only exist with the secondary social roles in life. Torvald, however, does not appreciate his wife’s sacrifices and efforts. For him, this house is his house to control alone. As Monrad points out that Monrad believes in nature: “…nature, which again is the creation of God, for ever given and unalterable” (Langas 150). Torvald does not want altered gender roles, because it threatens his power and superiority. The door and Tarantella dance represent Nora’s way out of her doll-like existence and an entry into her humanization. One of the ways that Nora humanizes herself is when she diverges from her doll’s roles. Lee says: “Nora’s ‘humanity’ relies on a sense that she is the exclusive owner of herself, her body and her work” (623). She becomes independent when she takes matters into her own hand and uses lies to save Torvald’s ego and life. Then, she also secretly works and earns money, another act of defiance and autonomy. Nora, however, is not yet aware of her humanity. She does not even use the word human being to describe herself until Act 3. During this time, she says: “I believe that before all else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are--or, at all events, that I must try and become one” (Ibsen Act 3). When she closes the door, she takes control of her life as a human being. MacPherson stresses that people reach their selfhood through their freedom, and Lee interprets this that for Nora, it entails being a “proprietor of her own capacity (624). She becomes a person, a human being with free will and civil liberties. Nora’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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