Difference in Response to “The Doll House
A Doll’s House is a play written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879 depicting the marriage between Nora and Torvald Helmer. Nora and Torvald fell in love with the conceptions of each other, not their real selves, which in the end causes the marriage to fall apart when they are faced with reality.
A Doll’s House is set in nineteenth-century Europe. It is the story of Nora, a typical housewife and Torvald, her husband. They have three children and live in a beautiful house where all of the action takes place. The story reveals that when Torvald was sick and the only way to save him was to go to Italy, Nora borrowed a large sum of money from the bank without his knowledge to finance the trip. Being a woman at this time, however, she needed someone to sign the loan for her. When unable to ask her father, for he was on his deathbed, Nora forged his signature. This comes to haunt her later when Nils Krogstad, the banker who she borrowed money from, blackmails her. As the truth unfolds and Torvald finds out about Nora’s secret he is extremely mad and calls her a liar and says she cannot bring up their children. Torvald is more concerned about their image and what people will think than anything else. However, when Torvald receives a second letter from Krogstad with the promissory note stating that Krogstad will not use it against him, Torvald tries to take back all the mean things he said. Nora decides that she does not love Torvald anymore because their marriage is superficial and because he doesn’t treat her as an equal. She leaves her children and plans to go back where she came from to try and find herself.
My sister and my mother disagree on the theme of "A Doll House". The conflict they have is whether or not "A Doll House" is a feminist text or not. Ibsen, the writer of "A Doll House", has himself said that his play is not a feminist text. Even though he did not intend it to be, it is a feminist text. "A Doll House" is not a feminist text. I think the story is about a woman who thought she knew herself, until one event turns her world upside down.
My sisters view, "Is ‘A Doll House’ a Feminist Text?", says that "A Doll House" is a feminist. She admits that Ibsen himself says "A Doll House" is not about women’s rights but "the description of humanity." She believes that "A Doll House" is still a feminist text because people take it to be one. She finds it to be ironic that "A Doll House" is an icon of the women’s movement, even though it is not about women’s rights.
It is argued by my mom that Ibsen would not admit "A Doll House" to be a play on women’s rights because he did not want to be associated with the women’s movement since it was not popular at the time. This is however only because as Ibsen said "whenever such a description is felt to be reasonably true, the reader will read his own feelings and sentiments into the work.
I believe the story is actually about a woman who thinks she knows herself. Nora, in the beginning of the story, does not understand just what kind of position she has put herself in by taking the loan, without her husbands knowledge. Nora doesn’t think that the debt is such a big deal. She understands she will have to work to pay it off, however she does not realize that she has put her secret in the hands of a desperate, greedy man. Nor does she understand just how in love she is with Helmer. In the beginning Nora says "I could never think of going against you” to her husband, and yet in the end she does. It is not until the very end of the play when Helmer opens the letter from Krogstad, that Nora truly knows herself. Helmer yells at Nora for what she has done and practically condemns her to hell. She begins to understand here that she has never actually loved Helmer. She also begins to see that she has lead a sheltered life, and has never truly lived. She recognizes that she has responsibilities towards her family, but to herself more importantly. So the thing that made Nora leave was the opening of the letter, which finally put things into perspective for her. Nora did not leave because of female liberation.
"A Doll House" is not a feminist text. Even though it is taken by my sister and mother to be a women’s rights icon. I think the story is merely about a woman, who realizes her perception of things is all wrong, through a single event, so she leaves her family in order to live her life as she now understand it should be.
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