A Dolls House: Gender Disparity Essay
Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’ is no doubt a masterpiece, which covers gender disparity in Norwegian society quite extensively. The play portrays the position of women in Norwegian society during the eighteenth century. It gives an account of the controversial issues, equality, private life, love, and divorce that took center stage in society especially in the marriage institution. In this paper, I will address a significant subject, which the play responds to remarkably in great detail, that is gender disparity.
In the past, the marginalization of women was a common practice and almost a norm thus gender equality was utterly overlooked. Although much has been implemented in modern society to curb gender inequality, gender disparity still persists. The rightful position of women in society is yet to be achieved in cross-cultural borders. In the play, “A doll’s House” the society undermines women’s rights and Ibsen is keen to criticize the traditional roles of men and women as well as the marriage norms, which the society upheld. In essence, Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” was an insult to the marriage norms, which were observed and practiced. Thus, the marriage covenant was regarded as the holiest of all covenants. Consequently, the ill portrayal of the marriage covenant was absolutely unacceptable and the few liberal-minded people in the society who voluntarily observed the society void of prejudice did not have the opportunity to steer abolishment of oppressive marriage norms at the time. In fact, the marriage norms were a totality of disrespect to women and give women a lowly position in marriage and the society at large hence an infringement of women’s rights or rather human rights (Ibsen 98).
The traditional roles assigned to men in marriage are solely on a pro patriarchal dominated system. In fact, this is quite evident in the way men disrespect women. For instance, when Nora Helmer enters her matrimonial home, she is happy beyond doubt. However, she lives with a dark secret of a deed she committed to save her husband’s life. Nevertheless, she never told her husband since he would not appreciate it and she also thought it would disgrace him. Nora confides in an elderly window from her early days, Mrs. Linde, who stops by looking for a job.
They exchange experiences of how challenging life has been for both of them in the past, but Nora acknowledged that life is better for her after her husband had secured a new job in the recent past. She explicitly explains how Torvald was critically ill and she had to forge her deceased father’s signature in order to illegally acquire a loan. Ever since she has been struggling to pay back the loan secretly. She has been doing it without the knowledge of her husband because it would upset him to hear of it.
“How painful and humiliating it would be for Torvald to know that he owed me anything! It would upset our mutual relations altogether.”(197)
Unfortunately, a disgruntled employee at the bank takes advantage of the information and uses it to blackmail her husband to ensure his job at the bank. This puts Nora in a desperate situation since she is trapped and both her husband are really disrespectful of her with this issue. Quintessentially, Torvald rebukes her when he finally learns of it and deems her an immoral and dishonest woman. In addition, she regards her as unfit to bring up their children. Eventually, she compromises their marriage and restricts it to mere appearances without negotiation and consultation with her wife or anyone else (Ibsen 124).
In reality, marriage is a trap for women since their role involves self-sacrifice. They are not treated as equals in the marriage institution. For instance, in the case of Nora women were not given a chance to develop themselves at the individual and could not manage their finances. For instance, Torvald brags to Nora and teases her about his breadwinner role.
“Bough did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?”(11)
These are injustices against women since they were not even allowed to conduct business. The act of taking a loan with her husband’s approval is deemed ignorance, she is not let to get away with it. In addition, employment available for women was quite limited and poorly compensated. For instance, Mrs. Linde’s work was domestic service. Notably, women’s work was quite dull, and employers were highly likely to leave a bright woman like Mrs. Linde for a post she qualified for and take in a man instead. In comparison to married women, single women were freer and could carry business without prejudice and manage their finances without authorization (Ibsen 164).
Although divorce was available for a way out of marriage, it was conducted as a social stigma for both spouses hence intimidated women from exploiting that option. There is a huge gap in marriage appearances and reality hence women had to take part in the deception. Usually, this was in order to enable them to take pleasure in acceptance by society. For instance, Nora deceives her husband about her real situation about the loan and conceals her financial strength because she intuits that Torvald could not bear the reality about their marriage. In return, Dr. Rank lies to Torvald about his health simply because he knew Torvald was not the type of person who could accept a disagreeable matter such as death (Ibsen 202).
Women are harshly judged by society and the definition of morality is comprised to render women immoral. For instance, Nora is criminalized for the deed of counterfeiting her father’s signature an action she justifiably took in good faith to save life hence morally acceptable if it were to be legally reproached. It is sorrowful that the most sacrificial deed in her life to save Torvald turns out to be the unforgivable crime that the society and Torvald its responsible representative condemns. The entire play involves a lengthy journey in discovering who is wrong and who is right. Individuality is not upheld ad Nora ends up unjustly, morally ashamed since society reduces her to playing the role of a dutiful mother and wife as dictated by society. Thus, women are mere playthings (Ibsen 214).
Ibsen Henrik.A Doll’s House. London: Plain Label Books, 1960.Print. ISBN 1603038175, 9781603038171