In 1879 society dictated the way human beings lived their lives and in 2000 nothing has changed. In “A Dolls House,” Henrik Isben reveals the devastating affect society has on relationships. Through the disintegration of Nora and Torvald Helmer’s marriage, Isben shows how people make poor decisions based on the opinions of the society they lived in. Many have tried to present the play as an example of women’s rights, but I believe Isben was trying to say that society oppresses all of us, by dictating how we should live our lives.
For example, Nora is forced to hide the fact that she made a financial decision to save Torvald’s life, because it would make him appear weak. In addition, she forged her father’s name on the bond not realizing she was committing a crime. The fact is that 1879 society was a man’s world, and it wasn’t appropriate for a woman to show more strength or intelligence than her husband. “This society has a moral code that prescribes many rules but does not tolerate moral fervor” (Meyer 51).
Rather than face the fact that she may disappoint Torvald by not being perfect, she hides things from him. In the beginning of the play she hides macaroons in her pocket rather than eating them in the open, because she knows Torvald doesn’t approve of them. Since Torvald doesn’t approve of them, it wouldn’t be acceptable for her to go against his wishes, so she hides them. She also allows him to give her pet names like skylark, or squirrel even if she doesn’t like them. Of course, “There is certainly no sense that Nora finds these labels unacceptable-at times (although not here) she uses them herself to get her way with Torvald” (Johnston).
MorrieIn the play King Lear by William Shakespeare and the memoir Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, the two main characters King Lear and Morrie Schwartz both experience a major downfall within their lives. Each man endures their hardship in their own way, but Morrie Schwartz epitomized the correct way to live life – the way we all should. King Lear viewed aging and death as a time to be ...
Nora pretends to be a naive child, because this allows her get what she wants, by feeding Torvald’s ego. “Yes, Nora may appear happy enough and getting her way, but she’s playing a silly role, acting the child-wife when she is, in fact, a mature married woman and mother in her late twenties” (Johnston).
Torvald doesn’t see a problem with this, because it fits the expectations of society perfectly.
Torvald is very concerned with fitting the image of society. When Nora announces she is leaving him he begs her to stay, but his remarks are more concerned with the opinion of others than the thought of losing his wife. He says to Nora, “It’s shocking. This is how you would neglect your most sacred duties” (Isben 425).
This statement leads one to believe that Torvald is most likely worried more about what others will think when they learn Nora has left him than losing Nora.
Many feel that Henrik Isben presented a grand example of an oppressed woman in “A Doll’s House,” but I feel he presented a man and a woman that allowed society to destroy their marriage. Nora secretly wanted to be more than a doll to her husband. Unfortunately, society did not allow this to happen, so Nora creates a more supportive image for herself by signing the bond in secret. She is very pleased with this secret and it works out great for her until Krogstad appears and threatens to reveal the truth. Nora is not prepared for this, because she is always trying to protect herself from the future, from self-realization (Myer 50).
Nora believes what she did was right, because it was her duty to save husband’s life. However, she allows Torvald to belittle her position by treating her like a child, on the condition that Helmer promises not to pry into her secret, her truth, she promises to “be an elf for him” (Meyer 50).
It is possible, if she had been honest from the beginning; she might have found herself in a much different lifestyle. Instead she is reduced to the common role of an oppressed housewife. Living her life as society expected her to live.
... with me, that's all" (1612). The ending of Nora and Torvald's marriage was expected. True love, honesty, and communication are all needed ... Henrik Ibsen, where he illustrates to us how one woman lives a life through her father and husband. Throughout the play we ... secluded from the society and thus possesses no experiences at all. Through their everyday conversation, Nora and Torvald reveal that they ...
Society forces us to believe things that are not always true. We build opinions based on current beliefs and values whether they are right or wrong. For example, Nora was unable to face Torvald, because she begins to believe she no longer fulfills his opinion of a good human being. Helmer makes his opinion clear when he tells Nora, “Because such an atmosphere of lies infects and poisons the whole life of a home. Each breath the children take in such a house is full of the germs of evil” (Isben 392).
Nora begins to realize that she no longer fits the role society has designed for her. She believes she must leave Torvald to find freedom.
“A Doll’s House” is a sad story. It reveals the tragic reality of society not only in 1879, but in 2001, as well. Many of us live our lives trying to reach that top rail of the society ladder. We neglect our families and ourselves to make sure we present the image society expects of us. In 1879 Men were expected to be the ultimate image of strength and women were expected to be submissive no matter how much it belittled them as a human being. In 2001 we continue to subject ourselves to the demands of society.
Men and women in our society are still dominated by standards. We are expected to drive overpriced cars, own oversized homes, keep a collection of 4 or 5 credit cards at all times. In our current society, a woman choosing to stay home and care for her children is looked upon as wasting her life by many men and women even if it makes her happy. These are the reasons I believe we are oppressed as a whole by the society we live in, because we make decisions based on the opinions of others rather than follow our hearts. We are no different in 2000 than we were in 1879.
Isben, Henrik. “A Doll’s House.” “Literature Reading and Writing the Human Experience.” 7TH ed. Ed. Abcarian, Martin and Richard Klotz. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. 392, 425.
The women s struggle for equal rights has existed throughout American history. For thousands of years women had been denied of their rights and always been thought of as having a second-class role in society. Women were powerless and considered the property of men. Women were only expected to fulfill certain roles in life. They have been given the role of being the weak, submissive, and a ...
Johnston, Ian. “On Isben’s A Doll’s House'” [http://.www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/introser/ibsen.htm].
Meyer, Hans George. Henrik Ibsen. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1972. 50, 51.