A Doll's House

A Doll's House deals with issues in Ibsen's day that weren't even regarded as issues. Ibsen says,

"Modern society isn't a human society, it is only a society of males"

It is with this revealing statement that you should read this play. Once you see that, Nora's actions become clear. Her hiding her forgery from her husband, her taking money from a stranger - are all to protect her husband's pride and illusion of her as a child. Even after eight years of marriage, Nora has only lived in a doll's house. She has never been a real person. Playing first with her father, after her marriage, she molds herself into a plaything for her husband. It is when things become too real that her marriage suffers a crisis. Faced with social ruin, Torvald shows a side of his character that Nora had never seen: the side of reality. All her life she has suffered from what so many women go through; she has lived a lie to please the male members of her family and never known it.

Expected to be a wife and mother first, Nora realizes that for her, being a human being first, like any other man, is more important. As the play progresses, the spendthrift wife's character is developed to show a girl with an immature understanding of the social world. Nora has been content to live her life under the protection of a husband whom she believes loves her unconditionally. She herself, living in this fantasy world, would do anything to protect those she loves. But that the world is a make-believe one she quickly realizes with Torvald's reaction to her actions. He is obviously not the man she thought, but is she the woman he believed her to be? Nora, always honest, realizes that she herself has a lot to grow and decides to leave her husband and children to discover the truth of herself and society.

The play met with a lot of controversy when it was first published in 1879. Dealing with the sacred institution of marriage, A Doll's House came under severe criticism for it's portrayal of such a wife. It was considered unnatural for a woman to walk out on her children. Ibsen was famous for dealing with the 'incomprehensible' and 'unnatural' woman; his effort was to show exactly how it wasn't unnatural and how the roles of women shouldn't be defined but be simply shown as human beings.

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