Ibsen has remarked that A Doll's House is more about human rights than women's rights. What do you think this means?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Ibsen's point is that the manner in which couples and people treat one another is something to be assessed.  While Ibsen's work speaks to how women's voice cannot be denied, there is a larger point in how the work suggests that no relationship that is predicated upon the silencing of voice is tenable:

Nora Helmer, the "doll" wife, realizes after eight years of marriage that she has never been a partner in her marriage. At the play's conclusion, she leaves her husband in order to establish an identity for herself that is separate from her identity as a wife and mother.

In this light, Ibsen's statement becomes quite telling.  The manner in which relationships are constructed are often done so to benefit one person at the cost of another.  This becomes especially true in marriage, where routine and complacency can become so silent and subterranean that individual voice is removed from such a configuration.  If Ibsen's idea of the work being about "human rights"  is taken to its natural conclusion, Nora leaving Torvald was because of the one- sided nature of their relationship.  While women's rights is a part of this, the larger and more human issue is that relationships are often constructed where one partner silences another to their own benefit.  Intentional or unintentional, this is not an issue of gender, but of power and control.  In this light, Ibsen's work is seen in a much more compelling light in that it calls for a reexamination of the roles in relationships and how partners interact with another, being more mindful of voice and assertion of that voice in order to ensure that both parties are heard and validated.

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