Is Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House  still relevant today, and do women like Nora and husbands like Torvald still exist?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House is indeed still relevant today, especially the character Nora. While women have made a great deal of political progress in securing the right to equal employment, education, and other freedoms, some would argue that women, as well as others, such as minorities, are still subjected to discrimination. In fact, many would point out that women are still earning less money than men. However, Ibsen's play deals less with the larger picture of social injustice and more with Nora's own personal problem, which is the fact that she has been treated unfairly by her husband and father as a result of social influences. There are many women in the world who are still being suppressed by the dictatorial husband.

Torvald plays the role of the dictatorial husband in many instances. We first see his dictatorial nature when we learn that he has forbidden Nora to eat sweets as he thinks they will ruin her teeth. He treats her like a child, asking her, "Hasn't Miss Sweet-Tooth been breaking rules in town to-day? ... Hasn't she paid a visit to the confectioner's?" (I). In treating her like a child, he is showing that he feels he has the right rule over her. There are indeed still men who feel that they have the right to rule over women.

Another way in which we see Torvald acting dictatorially is through his refusal to listen to his wife's views, especially her views about money. We also learn in the first act that Torvald forbids Nora to take out loans; he even forbade her to do so when his life was in danger due to his health. Therefore, it is Torvald's own fault that Nora put both his and her own reputation in jeopardy by committing fraud to save her husband's life. Had Torvald not been so strict about money, and had he not refused to listen to Nora's opinion, he would have been treating her with respect and treating her as an equal, rather than being dictatorial. Another way in which we see him being dictatorial is in the way he refuses to listen to Nora's concerns about Krogstad. Of course, Nora is not completely honest with Torvald about the reasons why he should not fire Krogstad, but one thing she says is true. She and Torvald both know that Krogstad writes for the "most scurrilous newspapers," and, therefore, she tells Torvald she fears that if he fires Krogstad, Krogstad will write something to slander Torvald. However, Torvald refuses to listen to her precautions because if he did, he would be doing "his wife's bidding" (II). Just like Torvald, there are indeed still many men who feel that they have the authority to preside over their wives.

nataranjan | Student

i am surprised, royce997, you haven't had an answer to your RATHER fascinating question in more than 6 weeks ! What's the matter with the literary types? Can no one see Noras and Torvalds walking past us, living with us, born in our families day after day after day ...each one attracted to the other and ready to set up family, fall in love and have babies, but unable to trust each other...suspecting that one or the other is upto one thing or the other that simply will turn out to be just the wrong thing .. if men aren't sure what their women are up to ...women aren't making it any easier than Nora by not letting them on to their , we have  a modern world full of secretive Noras and egotistic Torvalds ...who start up setting up families thinking they are above such low impulses as to suspect each other , but aren't that noble after all...and those who are above such emotions are actually Krogstads and the Linde's who are making alliances of conveniences..and those who can see through the tragedy of this all are dying or dead such as Dr.Rank , there you have it , royce997, all Ibsen's characters are parading up and down our world which someone once , long before Ibsen , called a stage !