"Henrik Ibsen's" A Doll's House Essay

715 words - 3 pages

Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's HouseIn Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, the main male character, Torvald Helmer, speaks very condescendingly to his wife, Nora throughout the first act of the play. He has a definite and narrow definition of a woman's role, which is clearly exemplified in his dialect towards his wife as well as in reference to her. In his opinion, it is the divine duty of a woman to be a good wife to her husband and a good mother to her children. Furthermore, he tells Nora that women are solely responsible for the morality of their children (yet also somewhat contradicts his point at the same time in reference to Krogstad): "It generally comes from the mother's side, but of course the father's influence may act in the same way" (164). Basically, he sees women as child-like, careless, helpless creatures detached from reality while they also must act as prominent moral forces ...view middle of the document...

Torvald calls Nora a number of names in the first act, including "my little lark," "little spendthrift," "little rogue," "squirrel," "little songbird," "poor little Nora," and "little woman" (Ibsen 137-154). Torvald is extremely consistent about using the modifier "little" before the names he attaches to Nora, followed with "my," an indication of his belief that Nora is a possession of his, rather than his wife who has her own opinions and thoughts. The names Torvald applies to Nora reveal that he does not view her as his equal by any means; rather, Nora is at times Torvald's predictable and foolish doll, while other times a captivating and exotic pet or animal, always existing simply to please and entertain Torvald. "You're a strange little being...Well, one must take you as you are. It's in the blood. Yes, Nora, that sort of thing is inherited" (Ibsen 140). Or on the following page when Torvald says, "To be sure you couldn't, my poor little Nora. You did your best to amuse us all, and that's the main thing" (Ibsen 141).Torvald views Nora in a fragile sense, and is possibly referring to her physique as well as her tendency to be a chattery busybody when he refers to her as his lark or squirrel, which begins on the opening page of the play:HELMER: Is that my lark twittering there?NORA: Yes, it is.HELMER: Is it the squirrel skipping about?NORA: Yes!(Ibsen 137).Torvald's view of his wife in a more fragile sense is exposed when he states, "Now, I needn't sit here boring myself all alone; and you needn't tire your dear eyes and your delicate little fingers-" (Ibsen 142). In constantly referring to Nora as a small, delicate animal, he inflates his ideal and sense of himself as being the wise, domineering member of the union, reassuring him of his control over the situation.In all, Torvald holds little respect for Nora as an equal being; rather, he thinks of her as his "little" possession that he receives amusement from. Nora is simply regarded as someone to take care of Torvald and their children, an individual to adore and serve him while he plays the role of director.

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