Synopsis of “A Doll’s House”
- Date:Jul 15, 2019
- Category:A Doll's House
It is undeniable that life for women during the Victorian period was very different from life for women living today. With the growth of the Industrial Revolution, women were able to find more opportunities to support themselves without remaining dependent on men, particularly within the cities. For most women, their world was defined by the attitudes and desires of their male relatives. For those who chose to take a different path, success was not always assured. As a result, women often found it difficult to determine whether they wished to sacrifice family for freedom or freedom for family. It was almost never possible for a woman to have both and was often the case that they found neither. The choice they made was almost always irreversible – a woman who chose marriage no longer had the option of taking employment just as a woman who took employment often had to forfeit any hope of getting married. These are the issues explored in Henrik
Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House” through the character of Nora which can be illuminated through the concepts brought forward in Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.”
Ibsen’s play is focused on the story of a woman named Nora at a point at which she is preparing for the family Christmas celebrations. Her preparations reveal her to be a shrewd shopper, carefully planning out what each member of the family most needs and how she can derive the greatest use from it. Her husband reveals his opinion of her as a spendthrift because she constantly spends all the money he gives her almost as soon as she gets it. He seems to feel as if Nora exists simply to bring him amusement and to keep the trivial details of running the household off of his mind while he focuses on weightier matters outside of the home. However, their discussions show that he was once solely dependent upon Nora to care for him when he was gravely sick one time and that Nora is much more resourceful than she lets on.
Nora has a great deal of strength in her, but she is trapped by the society she lives in, which is represented by the figure of her father. Although she had spent a great deal of her life taking care of her father, she was unable to get her father to help when Helmer needed a vacation in order to regain his health early in their marriage. To take care of her husband, Nora took out an illegal loan. It was illegal because women were not allowed to have anything to do with money without the consent of their male relatives. Despite her husband’s impressions of her carelessness with money, Nora has managed to pay back almost the entire loan by the time the play opens. She does this by engaging in numerous activities that have enabled her to earn money without her husband’s knowledge. All of this comes to a climax when the man who loaned her the money threatens to tell her husband in an act of blackmail.
Choosing to take the road less traveled, Nora decides she’s tired of hiding and wants her husband to treasure her for her abilities instead of her inabilities. His inability to recognize how she has contributed to his happiness and her cleverness in being able to help manage important issues pertaining to the family cause her to finally realize the injustices that have been committed upon her. Her husband’s lack of regard for her and his over-concern for his own reputation causes her to realize that she either needs to sacrifice her self-respect to continue living as a child in her own home or sacrifice her happy home in order to know herself as fully human. She has come to the fork in the road mentioned in Frost’s poem from which there will be no turning back.
Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” is a poem about making these kinds of decisions in life and how they cannot be unmade. In the poem, the poet finds himself confronted by a choice between two paths. Whichever path he chooses, he will never know where the other path might have taken him. In the end, the underlying message seems to be that individuals should make choices in their lives based on their own paths and their own inclinations because it is almost never possible to turn back and try the other path. At the same time, Frost illustrates the longing more than one of his reader’s have shared that one could take both paths at one and the same time. “Like it or not, we can’t take all the roads we want to in life. Frost’s words also remind us that we really are one traveler, and trying to choose everything in life will leave us just as empty as choosing the wrong thing …Ultimately, over-commitment arrives at the same destination as procrastination: at the road not taken” (Bellah, 2004). While Frost’s poem does offer the reader wisdom for life, as has been shown in this analysis, the wisdom offered is much deeper than a simple pointing of the way.
Bellah, Mike. “The Road Not Taken.” The Best Years. (January 2004). December 8, 2010
Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” New Enlarged Anthology of Robert Frost’s Poems. Louis Untermeyer. New York: Washington Square Press, 1971: 223.
Ibsen, Henrik. The Doll’s House. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 1992.