How do I write a well-developed essay discussing the trifles found in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and how they relate to feminine struggle?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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A well-developed essay would begin with a thesis, but if we are unsure of our argument, it is best to start with brainstorming points for the argument. So first, we can start by discussing what trifles are seen in A Doll's House and how those trifles portray feminine struggles.

One trifle is the fact that Torvald has forbidden Nora to eat sweets as he fears they will ruin her teeth. In forbidding her to eat sweets, he is actually treating her just like a child by laying down household rules of what she can and cannot eat. Torvald's law concerning sweets effectively portrays the social norm of the man of the house having complete authority in that era. In addition, since Nora first comes on stage eating a packet of macaroons, we know that Nora has not completely succumbed to Torvald's authority. Instead, in her own way, she is rebelling against his dictatorial nature, which serves to portray her feminine struggle against accepted social norms.

Another trifle that portrays Nora's struggles with social norms is the references to the Christmas tree. Nora is very excited because this is the first Christmas in which they can afford to spend a little extra money on Christmas. In fact, even Torvald thinks their new income situation is wonderful and remembers how last Christmas Nora locked herself up in her room "making ornaments for the Christmas Tree, and all the other fine things that were to be a surprise" (I). But in reality, Nora was actually shutting herself in her room so that she could complete the copying work she was able to acquire in order to earn money to help pay off her secret loan. This reference to the trifle of Christmas ornaments with relation to work also helps portray feminine struggles in society because women in that era were only permitted to work low-paying jobs, such as clerical work, domestic work, and teaching. Therefore, Nora's struggles to earn money help portray how she struggles against society.

If we were to use these two points plus others for our essay, we could create a thesis that in general sounded something like this:

  • The trifles seen throughout A Doll's House, such as macaroons and Christmas tree ornaments, serve as symbols to help portray the feminine struggles of Henrik Ibsen's era.
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