In the play A Doll's House, what are the different expectations for men and those for women?

Expert Answers info

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,149 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

In his realistic portrayal of life, Henrik Ibsen points to the deprecation of wives; however, while his intention has been to merely illustrate the feminine issue, not address or solve it, A Doll's House met with so much criticism that Ibsen was forced to write a seconday ending to appease some audiences.

Published in 1879, Ibsen's play is set during the Victorian Age of England, a time when patriarchy was existent and women's rights virtually non-existent. Helmer speaks to his wife Nora in patronizing tones, calling her his "pouty squirrel," "little songbird" because she sneaks sweets, and playfully pulls her ear as though she is a child in Act I and scolds her for wanting to spend some money for Christmas, "There you go being irresponsible again," and scolding her for wasting the household expenses on things that she does not need.

Little does Helmer know, that his sobriquet "my pouty squirrel" is ironic because Nora has "squirreled" away this household money in order to repay a loan that she has secretly made on behalf of her husband.  But, because he does not approve of taking loans, an opinion he expresses in Act I--

"You know how I feel about that! No debts! A home in debt isn't a free home, and if it isn't free it isn't beautiful"--

he demands that Nora not borrow any money for the Christmas season.  He declares that she is "funny" for letting money "run through your fingers" and wasting is "in [her] blood." These words restrain her from revealing the actions that she has taken in the past to ensure that Helmer be cured of his illness. Because the law does not permit a wife to borrow money without consent from her husband, Nora has had to resort to forging her father's signature on the loan from Krogstad

(The entire section contains 608 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial