Kareem Abdul Jabar
Mr. Gene Simmons
A Doll House analysis
9 November 1975
The Ragdoll That Once Was Nora Helmer
Henrik Ibsen’s play, “A Doll House,” was written in 1879, which was during a time when women and men’s roles in society were looked at as being two completely separate entities, and equality between the sexes was nowhere near in sight. While men were meant to go out and provide financial support for the family, women were often relegated to a life of child rearing, housework, and submission to the husband’s needs. Although in “A Doll House,” Nora is fortunate enough to have hired help for child rearing and housework, she still has no independent means and must submit to Torvald’s every need, almost as if she were being controlled like a doll in a doll’s house.
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Although Torvald’s response might seem like simple friendly banter, it is indicative of the hierarchy of their marriage in which Nora is dependent on him.
Nora’s dependent nature didn’t begin with her marriage to Torvald; rather it began with her upbringing from her father. She was raised to take on her father’s opinions, without dissent, for fear of upsetting him. Any opinion of her own was suppressed because “proper ladies” were expected to always be agreeable to their husbands and fathers. When she married Torvald, this behavior continued because societal norms decreed it, and she had known no other way. It is almost as if Nora’s father had passed a secondhand ragdoll onto Torvald.
Although Nora seems to willingly play into this submissive role within her marriage, it is revealed at the end of the play that she has longed for a life of independence, where she can make her own decisions and develop more meaningful and fulfilling experiences. She seems to have come to this realization after her friend Kristine visits, and tells of her experiences fending for herself, without the help or need of a man to take care of her. Although Kristine makes it known that her life of independence has been filled with hardships, Nora seems willing to endure the same, in exchange for freedom from her assigned gender role.
While some may think that Nora’s decision to leave behind her children and husband was motivated purely by selfishness, I believe her motivation came from an intense desire to experience a freedom that she had wrongfully been denied. Every human being deserves to be given the opportunity to experience real love and respect, and Nora received neither of those things while living under the constraint of the dollhouse. Given her options, Nora made the right choice in deciding to search for her identity and displayed an incredible amount of bravery.
WORD COUNT: 528