Women's Issues In And Concerning A Doll's House

1513 words - 7 pages

Women’s Issues In and Concerning A Doll’s House

A Doll’s House was a groundbreaking play upon its original theatrical release. Critics were extremely negative at first, as demonstrated by Rosefeldt’s opinion, “In Henrik Ibsens A Dolls House, Nora abandons her children. This offense against motherhood shocked the plays original audience just as it shocks some students of literature today. Certainly the play questions the real definition of motherhood” (Rosefeldt). The play was even banned for how it portrayed women. It showed them acting in a way that was illegal at the time, taking out loans without their husband’s permission and forging signatures. At the end of the 19th century in ...view middle of the document...

Despite their diverging interests, Anthony and Stanton collaborated on a three-volume work, History of Women Suffrage, published 1 volume at a time between 1881 and 1886” (29). Because they knew their work counted for all women, Anthony and Stanton put their differences aside and worked for the greater good. They also expanded their reach to try to affect all women in a positive way. Without Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, women would still not be able to vote today.
In A Doll’s House, not only was Nora unable to vote, but she lacked many basic rights and was, for much of the play, subconsciously unhappy. This feeling of oppression is what most women of the time period felt. Torvald thinks he is giving her a nice favor although in reality he is doing nothing special when he says, “Nora dear, I can forgive you this panic, even though basically you’re insulting me. Yes, you are! Or isn’t it an insult to think that I should be afraid… But I forgive you anyway…” (Ibsen 993). Torvald also talks to Nora like she is nothing but a child. In his eyes, a woman insulting a man is something prohibited that would need forgiveness if it is ever done. Later, Nora is shown to not know the ins and outs of the real world when she says, “This I refuse to believe. A daughter hasn’t a right to protect her dying father from anxiety and care? A wife hasn’t a right to save her husband’s life? I don’t know much about laws, but I’m sure that somewhere in the books these things are allowed” (984). Nora is definitely naïve in believing that laws can be changed strictly based on her needs. However, there is some truth in believing that the law sometimes makes desperate exceptions. The oppression of women contested in A Doll’s House is also shown in other books such as The Second Sex.
Beauvoir mainly discussed the women’s role in their household and in society, and how they should be treated and how they are supposed to treat their husbands. She explains what women get when they marry here: “In marrying woman gets some share in the world as her own; legal guarantees protect her against capricious action by man; but she becomes his vassal… She takes his name; she belongs to his religion, his class, his circle; she joins his family, she becomes his ‘half’” (429). There were some advantages in getting married as a woman, but mostly they were disadvantages in losing your own world and adopting your husbands. Men had and usually exercised the right to control everything women believed in. The women’s supposed role in society is explained by Beauvoir here: “But even the primitive societies that are not aware of the paternal generative role demand that women have a husband, for the second reason why marriage is enjoined is that woman’s function is also to satisfy a man’s sexual needs and to take care of his household”. (427) Beauvoir knew she had to try to change the way women were treated, and her way was expressing the jobs a woman was currently supposed to...

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