A Dolls House by Henrik Ibsen

December 4, 2016 General Studies

Freedom: Do women have rights to choose and the ability to act accordingly

The answer to this question may seem to be an obvious ???no???, or ???not really??? at least, when we first read ???A Doll??™s House???. However, in very detailed parts Ibsen did in fact give hints to suggest otherwise.

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Throughout the story, Nora interpreted ???freedom??? differently. At first Nora remarked that when she could pay back all the debts she would be ???without a care??¦being able to romp with the children??¦and having things just as Torvald likes to have them??? (p16). She considered herself to be carefree then even though she was still restricted by her roles, as she later realized. Only at the end of the play was Nora able to pursue her true freedom??”individual self-fulfillment??”by acting subversively against the social conventions, which regard women as inferior. This awakening of Nora implies the fact that the male-dominating norm can indeed be changed.

In the first two acts of the play, Nora was obviously under the control of Torvald. She was not acting in her own way at all, but was manipulated instead. For example, when she borrowed money for a noble intention, she concealed it from Torvald just because he didn??™t like it. The revealing may probably ruin the fantasy marriage that he wanted. It showed that Torvald was taking over Nora and whatever Nora did had to please Torvald. When Torvald called her by pet names at that time, Nora was submissive and had not said anything about it. Rather, she assured Torvald as ???I would never dream of doing anything you didn??™t want me to??? (p5). In this sense, Nora wasn??™t free at all. The only thing she did, at most, was to play small by regarding herself as ???the likes of us skylarks and squirrels??? while pleading Torvald for something. The patronizing and imperative tone of her husband had already made Nora lost her own self. Little did she realize that she had abandoned her freedom in a way of silent approval then.

When the play goes on, the whole unbalanced situation changed. After Nora recognized Torvald??™s selfishness and dogmaticalness, she no longer saw freedom in terms of being able to accomplish marital obligations. On the contrary, she defined freedom for herself and Torvald as complete independence from each other, as she banged the door, left the house and started a new life of herself. The very moment before she exited, she said to Torvald that ???I can at any rate free you from??¦??¦there must be full freedom on both sides??? (p85). In their final conversation, Nora emphasized her own stance. She affirmed Torvald for several times that she had to abandon the play-room kind of life and venture off to get experience. When Torvald tried to forbid her, she was calm and assertively said ???it??™s no use forbidding me??? (p81). Finally, she had made her own decision and acted subsequently. This was when she got the true freedom.

Some literary techniques were used as evidence, mainly proxemics and imagery. The whole play was set inside the house. Until the last act, Nora was in every scene; the action of the play all came to her. Even the maids were going in and out for work, Nora, as a wife, stayed almost all the time. She was literally trapped in domestic comfort, illustrating the idea of limitations and confinements. The setting was dramatically ironic, in a sense, there are actually doors pointing the way to freedom, but Nora was still ???trapped??? inside the tradition of the patriarchal society.

On the other hand imagery was used to deliver an underlying message at the same time. Ibsen used a door as a symbol for the stifling social stigma and expectation of women was probably because he was conveying the idea that women were to step out for themselves in order to acquire freedom. The doors, and the constraints as well, may be rigid though. Nonetheless, they can essentially be moved manually. They are meant to be a portal, leading out of the doll house to another world, another life, if only we, especially women, try hard enough to breakthrough.

Ibsen was pitiful toward women to a certain extent, if not he wouldn??™t have written the play as an assault to social conventions. Nevertheless he did think that women had to be equally responsible. Why weren??™t they daring to choose, just like Nora and Mrs. Linde

Undeniably, women would have to face a lot of difficulties. For instance, when Mrs. Linde was trying to find a job, what she could get was just low-paid and temporary work, such as domestic service. The most respectful, high-salary employments were all left for men; we can see that from Torvald being the bank manager, and Dr. Rank as a physician. Nonetheless it does not at all mean women are to be controlled. They should at least be treated as an individual, not merely a possession or a toy. Freedom posed might be limited, but they, women, are to strive for their own right, just like how Nora and Mrs. Linde had voiced their own thoughts out in the end.

The background at that time might have made it hard for women, but essentially we, men and women, are all granted with freedom to choose for ourselves. The bound only exists when someone compromises, and accepts what was so called ???reality??? by giving up the right to open the door. Ibsen himself was actually daring, as in writing such a controversial feminist play, which is ahead of its time. Being an exemplary, Ibsen was, to a certain extent, urging women to grab the freedom they deserve, and act accordingly, just as he did.


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