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Marriage as Entrapment for Men and Women in Ibsens A Dolls House - Essay Example

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Nora marries Torvald without understanding yet that her marriage further imprisons her as a woman. Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House narrates the struggles of a young wife, Nora, who only wants a perfect family in a perfect house…
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Marriage as Entrapment for Men and Women in Ibsens A Dolls House
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Download file to see previous pages At first, she thinks that money is enough to have a happy life, until she realizes that she cannot be happy until she loves herself and she cannot love someone she does not know at all. She breaks all gender norms when she decides to leave her family and to turn over a new leaf. The play uses characters, symbolism, and irony to demonstrate the theme of marriage as a metaphor for imprisonment because it entraps both men and women into delimiting gender roles and expectations, which are particularly disadvantageous for women because once married, they have no freedom and autonomy to grow as human beings. The characters of the play demonstrate masculine and feminine roles and expectations that produce a marriage based on gender inequality. Torvald is the typical masculine stereotype who is expected to control his family’s affairs, including his wife’s. As a husband and a father, he sees himself as the dominant breadwinner and source of authority in his family. He highly values his role as a breadwinner because in his society, a successful man is someone who has a big income and high social status. He tells his wife: “It is splendid to feel that one has a perfectly safe appointment and a big enough income” (Ibsen Act 1). Society conditions men to think about money most of the time because money gives them power, and so Torvald wants to control the source of money in his household. Moreover, Torvald’s patriarchal attitudes can be seen in how he treats his wife, such as when he calls her a “little lark” or a “little squirrel” (Ibsen Act 1). He also believes that it is “like a woman” to not consider the consequences of their actions (Ibsen Act 1). Torvald sees his wife as a “little” object, someone who is inferior to him because she is a woman. Moreover, Torvald even thinks that immorality comes from women, not men. He tells Nora: “Almost everyone who has gone to the bad early in life has had a deceitful mother” (Ibsen Act 1). Nora is quite offended with this belief, but Torvald honestly thinks that bad people are generally products of bad mothers, which indicates his poor perceptions of women. With such a low opinion of women, he treats his wife as his doll, someone he can and must control for her own good. He does not allow Nora to have a social life, which Nora confirms for Mrs. Linde: “Torvald is so absurdly fond of me that he wants me absolutely to himself, as he says” (Ibsen Act 2). Torvald does not want Nora to grow as a person because she might be a threat to his authority. Instead, he keeps her locked up in their house and ensures that she depends on him for money and social relationship. Two women indicate the result of following socially-produced gender norms. Mrs. Linde represents women who are married to their gender roles and responsibilities. She does not marry for love, but for money because she wants to help her family. She is practical, but in a way that pushed her to sacrifice her happiness, which is normal for her time because society expects women to have no autonomy and to be obligated in fulfilling the endless needs of their families. Like Mrs. Linde, Nora portrays the feminine stereotype. She is a woman who is married to her motherhood and spousal duties, while representing the feminine stereotype of a superficial spendthrift. Her sole responsibility is to ensure the happiness of her family, especially her husband, and to perform traditional middle-class feminine roles. She buys things needed in their house, supervises the welfare of her children, manages financial affairs, and stays inside their home as much as possible. In other words, she is glued to her roles as a wife and a mother. She is such a traditional woman that ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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