Discuss whether Ibsen would defend male preeminence in the home or advocate equality between spouses, in relationship to "A Doll's House"?

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kwoo1213's profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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I believe Ibsen's stance on this is fairly clear.  Based on the outcome of the play and her husband's treatment of Nora, I would have to say that Ibsen would advocate equality of the spouses as far as mutual respect, acknowledment, and admiration are concerned.  Nora was disregarded and treated like a triviality in her own home.  Through Ibsen's portrayal of these two characters, the reader can clearly see how, although Nora clearly made mistakes by taking out loans, etc., behind her husband's back, she was terribly neglected and treated as a child would be treated (or more appropriately, of course, a doll). 

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In "A Doll's House", Torvald has superiority.  He rules the house, and Nora hides, obfuscates, and performs in order to keep him happy.  Although she starts by willingly doing this, it is only because she has been taught to work her husband in this manner.  It is not because she is equal to him or demonstrating her own power - it is because she is living in a male dominated society and adhering to its standards.

Nora is the protagonist, however, and she will change as a result of the play.  In the end, she leaves Torvald.  When the secret of her borrowing money becomes known, Torvald shows concern for his status in society, and not for her or for their relationship.  Nora realizes that her love and attention to him is not equal to what he shows towards her.  As a result of this, Nora decides to leave Torvald.  Thus, Ibsen is advocating through Nora the need for equality between spouses.

In addition to this relationship, Ibsen shows readers the relationship between Christine and Krogstad.  The one scene between them shows a couple that is choosing equally to be together and choosing as a couple what their path in life will be.  They discuss things - they don't "play" with each other.

 

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