Discuss A Doll's House as a feminist drama.

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Henrik Ibsen, in his play, A Doll's House, intends to reveal how everyone is subject to the limitations and expectations of others; thus creating stereotypes. in 1879, not only women were trapped in their existence but men as they strived to be protector, lover, manager, banker, father and so on.

The most obvious reason for this play being preferred by the feminist movement as it so aptly portrays a woman trapped in her life who then escapes, is the shocking fact that, in her desperation, Nora basically, abandons her children. This unacceptable ending reinforces the position of women as they have to take such drastic steps to become themselves. Challenging the norms of society is crucial in revealing the dis-empowerment otherwise felt.  

The title also lends itself to a feminist drama as Nora is the doll and her home a superficial place - a doll's house! Torval's pet names for his wife, mostly diminutives, reinforce the inferior position that Nora, the "little squirrel," holds in the family. Nora herself, perpetuates her subordinate role by playing to Torvald's apparent domination. She even sneaks macaroons for fear of being reprimanded by him. Nora knows what is expected of her; hence, she has kept her secret all these years; to uphold Torvald's reputation and to ensure that she does not bring him shame through her seeming lack of scruples and fraudulent signature on a document.

Nora's flippant and apparent unthinking attitude all create the picture of a woman unaware of her own worth and dependent upon her husband but the audience knows of her sacrifice and the risk she took when she secured the loan which saved her husband's life. The fact that Nora thinks that Torvald will understand her motives - he doesn't - also contributes to the development of her character as, up to this point, she has willingly succumbed to her husband's expectations and wishes in the knowledge that it is all for the greater good of her family.

Hence, while it is often described as a feminist play and does meet the criteria, Ibsen's intention was always to show how each person is trapped in their own version of truth - or at least the appearance of truth and the upholding of an outward show of perfect domesticity.      

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