One of A Doll’s House: Secession From SocietyOne of A Doll’s House’s central theme is secession from society.
It is demonstrated by several of its characters breaking away fromthe social standards of their time and acting on their own terms.
No one character demonstrates this better than Nora.
During the time in which the play took place society frowned uponwomen asserting themselves. Women were supposed to play a role inwhich they supported their husbands, took care of their children,and made sure everything was perfect around the house. Work,politics, and decisions were left to the males. Nora’s firstsecession from society was when she broke the law and decided toborrow money to pay for her husbands treatment. By doing this,she not only broke the law but she stepped away from the rolesociety had placed on her of being totally dependent on herhusband. She proved herself not to be helpless like Torvaldimplied: “you poor helpless little creature!”Nora’s second secession from society was shown by her decision toleave Torvald and her children. Society demanded that she take aplace under her husband. This is shown in the way Torvald spokedown to her saying things like: “worries that you couldn’tpossibly help me with,” and “Nora, Nora, just like a woman.” Sheis almost considered to be property of his: “Mayn’t I look at mydearest treasure? At all the beauty that belongs to no one but me-that’s all my very own?” By walking out she takes a positionequal to her husband and brakes society’s expectations. Nora alsobrakes society’s expectations of staying in a marriage sincedivorce was frowned upon during that era. Her decision was asecession from all expectations put on a woman and a wife bysociety.
Nora secessions are very deliberate and thought out. She knowswhat society expects of her and continues to do what she feels isright despite them. Her secessions are used by Ibsen to showfaults of society. In the first secession Ibsen illustrates thatdespite Nora doing the right thing it is deemed wrong and notallowed by society because she is a woman. While the forgery canbe considered wrong, Ibsen is critical of the fact that Nora isforced to forge. Ibsen is also critical of society’s expectationsof a marriage. He illustrates this by showing how Nora is forcedto play a role than be herself and the eventual deterioration ofthe marriage. Throughout the play Nora is looked down upon andtreated as a possession by her husband. She is something to pleasehim and used for show. He is looked upon as the provider and thedecision maker. Society would have deemed it a perfect marriage.
Ibsen is critical of the fact that a marriage lacked love andunderstanding, as shown by Torvald becoming angry with Nora fortaking the loan and saving him, would be consider as perfect.
A Doll’s House’s central theme of secession from society was madeto be critical of society’s view on women and marriage. Ibsenused Nora’s secessions as an example to illustrate that society’sexpectations of a woman’s role in society and marriage wereincorrect. Her decision to leave was the exclamation point on hiscritical view of society.