In A Doll's House, Torvald Helmer treats his wife, Nora , much like a child, and this is a reflection of society at the latter end of the nineteenth century. During this time, women were not allowed to vote and were not deemed responsible or fit enough to manage...
In A Doll's House, Torvald Helmer treats his wife, Nora, much like a child, and this is a reflection of society at the latter end of the nineteenth century. During this time, women were not allowed to vote and were not deemed responsible or fit enough to manage their own financial affairs. Therefore, society was constructed in a way that made women almost entirely dependent on the men in their lives; most often, the financial role was fulfilled by husbands, as it was also not considered proper for middle-class women to work outside their homes. If women dared to leave their marriages, they likely had no possible means of supporting themselves and therefore also lost their children. Women were fairly trapped in circumstance.
In the play, Nora seeks medical treatment for her husband and finds a way to pay for it herself. This takes some creative liberties with the truth, but she sacrifices all she can to save his life. When Krogstad, another man in her life, has the opportunity, he threatens to expose her lie in order to improve his own situation. In the end, Nora walks away from her patriarchal world in search of herself. She tells her husband,
You neither think nor talk like the man I could join myself to. When your big fright was over—and it wasn't from any threat against me, only for what might damage you—when all the danger was past, for you it was just as if nothing had happened. I was exactly the same, your little lark, your doll, that you'd have to handle with double care now that I'd turned out so brittle and frail. Torvald—in that instant it dawned on me that for eight years I've been living here with a stranger, and that I'd even conceived three children—oh, I can't stand the thought of it! I could tear myself to bits.
Nora's comments reflect the ultimate purpose of the play. Ibsen demonstrates the inner strength of women who are placed in situations that seem to offer them no options. Needing a sense of validation and purpose, the soul of a woman will go to great lengths to fulfill the desires of her heart. In the era when this play was first performed, Nora's choice was quite offensive to the general audience, and Isben's portrayal of an independent woman who sought to discover her true sense of self separate from her husband earned the author the label of an "anarchist." However, Isben considered the purpose of his play valuable nonetheless: People should not blindly accept the social structures they support.