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I am struggling with an idea for a thesis statement for a paper on A Doll's House by...

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mplskaj | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:44 PM via web

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I am struggling with an idea for a thesis statement for a paper on A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen.

The paper is an analysis focusing on realism vs naturalism, supported by a combination of symbols, conflicts and themes in the play.  I appreciate the strong character Nora was in that day and age and would like to incorporate that into the statement, if possible.  If I could come up with a strong thesis, I believe the rest would come together quickly.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 9, 2012 at 3:37 AM (Answer #1)

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One approach to the analysis of Ibsen's Nora of his play A Doll's House is, indeed, that of naturalism.  For, in naturalism, human behavior is determined by heredity and environment; thus, humans are subject to the laws of nature.  According to critic Edmund Gosse, Nora is "a skin-leka, attending man in the shapes of her father and her husband." Her potential for developing powers of her own are suppressed by male domination, and, therefore, her nature that is subservient to male egotism leads her to act as she does in the critical situation in which she forges her father's signature on a desperate loan in order to provide her husband the warm climate that he needs to recuperate from a life-threatening illness.

But when her actions meant to preserve her husband are revealed, he displays no appreciation; instead, he is outraged that she would place him in such a compromising situation.  It is at this point that Nora evolves from a mere creature of her nature and asserts herself as a real person.  But, to do so, she must break from her entire family, having realized that her life has truly been a lie since her husband has proven unworthy of her sacrifice.

I mean that I was simply transferred from papa's hands into yours.... When I look back on it, it seems to me as if.... I have existed merely to perform tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it so. You and papa have committed a great sin against me. It is your fault that I have made nothing of my life.

Further, she tells her husband, "You neither think nor talk like the man I could bind myself to"; thus, she has no recourse but to break from him and her children as her life has been a falsehood. Here is Nora's move from naturalism to realism as she makes a rational choice outside of her established nature.

Now, regarding a thesis statement, perhaps the writer can point to the evolution of Nora's naturalistic character of behavior that is without moral instincts of its own, evolving to that of a realist who develops a rationality that does not allow her to continue in her role as skin-leka.

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