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la litterature, part one: henrik ibsen's a doll's house

ibsen wrote this play towards the end of the nineteenth century in 1879, and according to a teacher of mine, this work is hailed as the "first modern drama".
i read this play my junior year of high school. reading it in class, i was struck with the statement about women's roles in society. it was extremely powerful to me. then in november of this year, my friend and i went to see it at the rarig center and i was blown away. actually seeing the characters played on the stage emphasized the concepts and ideas constructed by ibsen even more. the play has powerful suggestions about women and it is even more significant coming from a man during that time period. he portrays the unjust circumstances women were leaving under and depicts the survival and perseverance and victory of women, and there are other options for women in that position.
major conflict - Nora’s struggle with Krogstad, who threatens to tell her husband about her past crime, incites Nora’s journey of self-discovery and provides much of the play’s dramatic suspense. Nora’s primary struggle, however, is against the selfish, stifling, and oppressive attitudes of her husband, Torvald, and of the society that he represents. (sparknotes.com)

what the play makes me think about:
- roles of males and females, particularly within a marriage
- sacrificial role of women
- patriarchal society, dominance, subordination
- stereotypes: mother, wife, homemaker, husband, parent
- rights of women
- appearances
- obligations, filial, parental
- sexism and anti-sexism

women are constantly making sacrifices to fit expectations of the male dominated society. mrs. linde, nora's friend from her youth, gives up true love with a poor man to marry a man with money in order to support her mother and her brothers. she sacrifices her own happiness and chance at love to make ends meet. the nanny abandons her own child to care for nora as a child and then nora's children as time passes.
nora is the play's protagonist. at first, i was disgusted with her. she gave women a bad name. she is entirely superficial, preoccupied with her appearance and others' opinions, especially that of her husband. she is the stereotypical archetype of a woman. she is there for the sole pleasure of her husband and to take care of the children. she doesn't have a life outside of that, no real thoughts of her own. torvald, her husband, is condescending and considers her his possession, a thing, a beautiful doll in his beautiful house that he can boss around and instruct as he pleases. he belittles her with patronizing pet names, and he loves nora for her beauty and obedience. but she encourages this behavior. she basks in his attention and allows him to treat her like this. but as the play progresses, nora's secret is revealed and my disgust lessened. she took out a loan without her husband knowing. at this time in history, women were not allowed by law to take out loan's without their husbands' permission. she is very proud of what she did for her husband, she believed she saved his life, but she hides what she did for him because she understands that he could never accept him from a woman, not even his wife, because he has too much pride, exemplifying the idea of male superiority. while torvald thinks that nora just spends money like sand slipping through her fingers, she is actually using it for the loan, however feeding torvald's ideas that women are only capable of using money for shopping and trivial things. there is a part when they are going to a new year's eve party, and nora needs to look beautiful, dance beautifully, be perfect for torvald and for their appearance in society. she is torvald's sex kitten, she is constantly being objectified him him through his names and his attitude toward her and idea that she is his property. however, by the end of the play, i have the utmost respect for nora. after her secret has been exposed, torvald goes crazy with anger. she was willing to sacrifice her life for his by committing suicide but he catches her before she leaves the house. he says that nora ruined his life but he won't let her leave and demands that they pretend that nothing in wrong so they don't sacrifice his reputation anymore. however, after torvald receives a letter from krostad saying that he will stop blackmailing nora, torvald adopts a completely different attitude. he is glad that the ordeal is over and life can go back to normal. he tells nora to rely on him as her guardian and teacher as they attempt to put their life back together, "because he loves her and finds her all the more attractive for her dependence upon him." his gender bias is especially apparent in this statement and his idea of a wife. nora can't go back to their life after she understands how torvald really perceives her. she was hoping for something glorious to happen, he would love her anyways and appreciate what she did for him, and sacrifice himself for her and for love. torvald tells her that no man can sacrifice his honor, his integrity for love and nora replies that “hundreds of thousands of women have.? she has a revelation and she realizes the stifling oppression of torvald that she has been living under, how she is defined solely by being a wife and a mother, she has no real identity of her own, she has always been trying to please the male figures in her life, her father and husband, she has always sacrificed her ideas and who is for her men, and they treated her as a beautiful creature with no real substance. all of her illusions about love and the men of her life shatter and understands now that they never thought of her as an individual and she decides that she must leave torvald in order to find herself, define herself in her own terms. she realizes that she is as important as torvald and she is independent of him, it is necessary to let him control her life, she wants to take control of her life, she has a responsibility to herself above all. torvald tells her she must stay and fulfill her sacred duties as a wife and a mother, but she doesn't believe in that anymore. she has just as much of a duty to herself and she finally realizes that she is a human being over any of her other prescribed roles.

what this play says to me:
an anti-sexist perspective is capable from a man, biases and stereotypes of women can be broken.