A Dolls House: Roles of Women Essay
- Date:Jan 28, 2021
- Category:A Doll's House
Notably, the 19th century has been recorded as the period of change in history that occurred due to the industrial boom that affected the economic and social structure in the societies. Henrik Ibsen experienced all these alterations and decided to write, highlighting all the disparities that were there in the society concerning gender (Ibsen, 1890). Hence, in his play, ‘A Doll’s House,’ Henrik has recorded all the disparities and evaluated how women were discriminated in various ways at that period, mostly in concern to the role that they participated in. At the period, there was a great rise, mostly for the middle earning families where the author has demonstrated two core characters, Nora and his husband Torvald (Ibsen, 1890).
In the late 19th century, society was completely obsessed with money, which many individuals such for several ways of gaining money as many had got the meaning of being a higher earning class (Vigen, 2018). Many referred to the expectation of being in the higher-earning class as, bourgeois respectability,’ which meant that one had moved to this class of earning without incurring debts. Besides, one was supposed to be successful financially while upholding social mobility upward, be healthy and secure paterfamilias marriage, and have the right ethical judgment (Vigen, 2018). On this note, women were noted to be powerless in their families and had to depend on men for anything they wanted to do. Therefore, the paper has been designed to explain the entire set of this play, but mainly focus on the cultural context while demonstrating women’s lives at the end of the 19th century and bring in various books that demonstrate women’s role in the society at this period.
During the 19th century, the entire society has implemented a patriarchal type of marriage where women were to be submissive in their marriages. Therefore, women had to depend on their husbands for everything that they needed to survive, such as socially, economically, and psychologically (Vigen, 2018). On this note, women were portrayed to be substandard to men who were only anticipated to be entirely submissive to their husband s and husbands in general. Henrik has outwardly represented this nature in his play, where he has depicted Nora being such a wife until the end of the play where she decides to change her portrayal to her husband (Ibsen, 1890). In the play, he has supported a statement concerning society in this era. He states that “it is a society that a woman cannot have anything by herself in the current society, hence, it is and completely male society where men have to decide on anything that matters. Men have to generate even the laws that should be followed in society (Vigen, 2018). Also, the judges and counsel are judging the feminine behavior basing their argument on the male stand of view.” It is evident in the play, particularly on Nora because irrespective of her being in a marriage relationship with Torvald for eight years, she states that they have never understood one another and it was time to depart themselves (Vigen, 2018). Besides, Nora tells her husband that he had been treating her like a doll for all these years that what he would do is just play with her and admires her. As a result, she tells Torvald that, “It is on a high time now that I start making sense of myself” (Ibsen, 1890). Hence, she leaves him slamming the door behind her. Therefore, this demonstrates that she was entirely submissive to her husband; who only took her as his doll, which makes her angry, and decides to leave him.
In consideration of the societal roles’ portrayal in the 19th century, especially the roles of women in society, society had to change around three-quarters of its standards to make women autonomy. The end of the 19th century shows the social change, where women decided to be inclusive in various roles of the society such as political, economic as well as decision making roles. In the play, this is evident considering what Nora does towards the end of the play (Vigen, 2018). The author had to portray such an instance to show that, similar to Nora’s tiresome of being submissive to her husband; the entire female gender needed freedom in their lives.
On the other hand, the end of the decades concerning the 19th century can be considered as a time where the world begum feeling as if it was its end. Many things had to change, and particularly women had to show that they were to be observed differently by society (Vigen, 2018). Therefore, the western world at this period was at its initial times concerning the revolution of several fields such as political, cultural, economic, and scientific roles. Besides, it is significant noting that no one in the society knew what was on the way coming. Still, the majority of individuals in the society had to observe it with a mixture of dreams and hopes (Adams, 2016). Therefore, when Nora slams the door in the play, she leaves an environment that she was well familiar with and decides to leave to the world hoping for the best, and not knowing what was waiting for her outside the world (Ibsen, 1890). Hence, the author in this instance, shows how women’s decision was full of hopes for better lives and thus, had to leave their current environments and move to other lifestyles without knowing how it would be in these statuses.
In the play, Nora is probably in the early thirties or late twenties. She was raised by her father, who ultimately observed the bourgeois conventions that trailed in the society at that period. Hence, during her childhood, she had to absorb all her father’s opinions, tastes, ideas and not make her own or decide anything on her own (Ibsen, 1890). Therefore, in consideration of the conditions that she was raised in, she expected that she would have been complete after becoming a wife, and a mother for that reason. However, she was not trained on becoming a successful mother or wife. Her father used to observe and treat her like a doll because of her beautiful and amusing portrayal. These conditions are similar when she gets married. She tells her husband that he has been taking her like his doll, which is just admired and played with (Ibsen, 1890). At this period, men expected their wives to be silly, lack knowledge concerning the world, and have the idea or opinion on the business of survival. The same is observed with Tolvald; he is considering Nora to be so much significant than just a wife and a person that he can play with and admire. However, Nora has decided to change all these observations (Ibsen, 1890).
According to the personalities of Nora in the play, she initially seems to be a playful person whole lacks significant knowledge concerning the world. However, she has later portrayed some worldly experiences which have indicated some signs of rebellion and show that she is not as happy as she earlier seemed to be (Adams, 2016). Besides, she has come to observe her role in her marriage which makes her more curious about leaving the husband and going out to the world to experience life by herself. Even though Tolvald observed her be silly and useless regarding anything outside being a wife, Nora has played various significant roles in the family (Ibsen, 1890). Earlier in life, the two were very poor, she forges her father’s signatures but borrows money which they used to move to Italy. If it were not for her, they would have both remained in their poverty condition. Besides, she has been working hard to ensure that she pays all this debt on her own without notifying her husband (Ibsen, 1890).
In this context, the flappers can be considered to be some of the most significant drivers concerning the roles of women in society. According to history, the flappers were the first-ever generation to fight for the rights and freedom portrayed to women in society (Suharyati, 2018). Before the existence of these individuals, a successful woman was considered to be one that got married and bore children. Therefore, women were not enrolled in the workforce in society but had to be fully submissive to their husbands and families at large. However, the flappers decided to change the portrayal of women in society (Suharyati, 2018). They started engaging themselves in activities that were earlier considered to be for men to show that they can also do anything.
Therefore, the flappers can be considered to be similar to Nora’s personality at the end of the play. Similar to the way women were considered to be in society, Nora is treated the same. She has been made submissive to her husband and father and seen as one who cannot do anything significant other than participating as a wife (Suharyati, 2018). However, she decides to change the same way the flappers did. According to the flappers, they preferred being single and entirely depended on themselves in anything concerning their lives. On this note, they searched for ways to look for their own money, make their own decisions, and remained alone without being married (Suharyati, 2018). They also decided to concentrate more on their lives by attending schools and fully participating in the workforce. In fact, according to various researches regarding the flappers, they were the first women to participate even in the workforces (Suharyati, 2018).
Moreover, the end of the 19th century records the complete change of instances in the world. Women were now fully acknowledged about their roles in society. They had already noticed that they were not supposed to be as they were observed in society. They had to be included in decision making in their marriages (Vigen, 2018). Also, they had to search for their own money to avoid being fully dependent and submissive to their husbands. Therefore, Henrik’s portrayal of Nora slamming the door and deciding to move and look for another kind of life shows how women were tired of the earlier portrayal and readiness to be self-depended (Ibsen, 1890).
However, although women fought for their rights and freedom in their families and workplaces, it was not entirely as they expected. In their anticipation, they expected that they would be regarded similar to men in the workplaces and at least change some of their roles in the families. In contrast to these, although they participated in the workplaces, their job positions were not similar to that of men. Thus, they were included in minor roles in the workforces, such as the secretariat (Adams, 2016). On the other hand, women were not paid the same salaries as men in the workplaces, their salaries were lower irrespective of the work that they were involved in. However, women did not lose the morale to fight for their rights; they continued seeking more equalization and a better observation by society (Vigen, 2018). In the early 20th century, gender equalization recorded a better portrayal of men. At this period, they could be included in any activities in the society. Women could participate in any role in the workplace and society at large. Therefore, the call that Nora had when she left her family can now be observed and recommended with the current roles of women in society (Adams, 2016).
Other than Nora, there were other women in the play that also shown a different perception of women in society. Mrs. Linde, who is Nora’s childhood friend, has approached Nora so that she can help her attain a job where Tolvald works. Mrs. Linde has been taking care of her sick mother and two siblings for quite some time (Ibsen, 1890). This portrayal shows how women have the capability of taking care of families without necessarily depending on men. On the other hand, her seeking the job portrays women’s new form of mind and the idea that they had now realized that they should seek their own money and not be submissive to men (Adams, 2016).
Although women were seen as silly and not significant concerning any decision made in society, they did lots without necessarily showing it to men. Also, they indirectly affected men’s decisions without men’s realization. In the play, Nora has ensured that Krogstad has not been fired from work irrespective of Tolvald’s stiff decisions to fire him. Nora, with the help of Mrs. Linde, has done anything possible until Krogstad was not fired by Torvald (Ibsen, 1890). Therefore, men took women to be inferior, but women have shown that they had the capability of changing men’s decisions and making them think otherwise.
In conclusion, the role of women in the 19th century had lots of disparities, especially concerning the portrayal of women in society. However, during the last decades of this century, women stood up and proved society wrong. On this note, they demanded their freedom in terms of making their own decisions and being economically and socially independent. The play has demonstrated this by portraying Nora’s initial lifestyle as a child and wife but the later decision to search for a different kind of life. In the current society, women are participating in various tasks and almost equal to men. In the last general elections of the United States, Hillary Clinton was vying for the presidential seat, something that had not been observed before. Although she lost to Trump, it shows that women are now participating almost equal to men even in political matters.