There are many reasons why Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House is still popular, but one of the main reasons is that it explores important themes. While Ibsen was commenting on gender inequality in Victorian Europe, his depiction of the way many men control women is unfortunately still relevant in contemporary...
There are many reasons why Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House is still popular, but one of the main reasons is that it explores important themes. While Ibsen was commenting on gender inequality in Victorian Europe, his depiction of the way many men control women is unfortunately still relevant in contemporary society. Consider how Torvald feels he is innately superior to Nora because of his gender and, as a result, believes he must control their money and that Nora should do what he tells her to do. Not all marriages are as unequal today, but in many places around the world they are, and many women are still dependent on men for financial stability. It is also interesting to consider how Torvald asserts power over Nora in some of the little things he says and does. For instance, recall the scene in which Nora asks Torvald to decide what she should wear to the costume party. He responds,
Ah, is my stubborn little creature calling for a lifeguard?
Later, when Torvald is taking Nora’s shawl off, he calls her “little creature” again and asks, “What’s to be done with her?” His use of words like “stubborn” and “little” are subtle ways to put Nora down. She is not really a stubborn woman, but Torvald views her that way because she tries to do things by herself and goes against his wishes. She is not “little,” either, but Torvald uses this word to reinforce his social superiority over her and remind her that, in his eyes, she is inferior because of her gender.
These are all ways that men continue to assert power over women today. For instance, consider how women in politics are often criticized for their dress or their tone of voice when men are not. Society continues to judge independent or powerful women as stubborn, when in fact they are simply doing what men do. Ibsen thus critiques aspects of gender inequality that are important to understand if society is ever to get to a place in which men and women are truly equal.