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A Doll's House Essay

2357 words - 10 pages

Often in literature characters are presented as victims of society. There are many examples of this in Henrik Ibsen’s controversial play, “A Doll’s House”. Written during the Victorian era, Ibsen’s play would have raised a lot controversy on the roles of males and females in society. The audience would have noticed the constant similarities between themselves and the characters that are presented as victims of society. A lot of the audience would have found the play shocking and disturbing.

Torvald, a character who is a typical Victorian era husband, with a sweet wife, three children, a nanny, a maid and a well paid job; would have represented a large ...view middle of the document...

“ I must try to buy him off somehow. This thing must be hushed up at any price.” (Act3, pg94)

Torvald tries his best to live up to every expectation society sets for him. The idea of maintaining a strong and crucial role in the family, is an image, which is important to Torvald. He feels if he maintains this image, he will be comfortably similar to everybody else, in society. As the male and husband of the family, he feels that it is his duty to be the breadwinner, the provider and the head of the household. “you will not find me lacking in strength or courage. I am a man enough to bear the burden for us both.” (Act 2, pg63)

In Act 3, we are able to see how the affects of society have taken the toll on Torvald's moral thoughts. It would kill Torvald, to know that society was aware of Nora’s actions. Torvald would feel ashamed that his own wife had to support him and save his life. “he’s so proud of being a man- it’d be so painful and humiliating for him to know that he owed anything to me (Nora).” Society works in the opposite way, the man is to support his family and to protect them against any harm and danger. Torvald resides to the level of society and comments that “often I wish some terrible danger might threaten you, so I could offer my life and blood, everything, for your sake.” (Act 3, pg92)

Due to society’s pressures and expectations Torvald’s only opinion and way of thinking is the same as the society’s stereotypical views. He knows no better. In society, women are just there to take care of the children and please their husbands. The most obvious example which shows Toravld’s need to follow to society’s ideas and expectations, is when Nora dances the tarantella and we see Torvald’s physical control over her. Nora pretends that she needs Torvald to teach her every move in order to relearn the dance. The reader knows this is an act, and it shows her submissiveness to Torvald. After he teaches her the dance, he tells Nora “When I saw you turn and sway in the tarantella- my blood was pounding till I couldn’t stand it.” (Act 1), showing how he is more interested in Nora physically than emotionally. When Nora responds by saying “Go away, Torvald! Leave me alone. I don’t want all this.” (Act 1), Torvald asks, “Aren’t I your husband?” (Act 1). By saying this, he is implying that one of Nora’s duties, as his wife is to physically please him at his command.

Both in Torvald’s eyes and society’s eyes, Nora, is merely a possession who like a pet can be played with affectionately until tired and given presents and treats to keep her happy. “Now, now! My little songbird mustn’t droop her wings…Is little squirrel sulking? Nora; guest what I’ve got here!”(Act 1, pg25) Torvald’s constant use of pet names throughout the play is an...

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