Last Updated 22 Feb 2022

Gender Roles In Dolls House

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A Doll’s House Play written by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen on 1879 (Britannica) brings up various social topics into questions especially during the early 20th century. The topics or themes revolve on gender roles particularly that of women, women’s self fulfillment vs. their constructed roles only limited as a mother and wife and love in marriage.

The writer of this play displays many facets of realisms about how women are being treated at times in a male dominated society, which was often illustrated during the early times. Here Ibsen presented the characters’ individuality and how they approach the different facets of societal realisms to illustrate the early dilemmas not just towards women’s position in the society but of human injustices.

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The play’s story is domestic in scope, primarily because two of the main characters are husband and wife.  Nonetheless, the play did include broader issues.  It showed how society in the 1800s view marriage, the functions assigned to man and wife, and the limitations it gave to women in general.  It is also climactic in structure.

The whole play takes place in one setting: in a particular room inside the house which is dominated by Nora’s character. Nora is the main protagonist of the story who initially enjoys being trapped in domestic comfort. She cheerfully goes with the flow on how Torvald, her husband, treats her. But rising events in the play made sudden transformation on Nora’s personality she was changed from a rebellious housewife to an independent woman of society.

Nora is forced to pretend to be someone she is not in order to fulfill the role that her father, her husband and the society at large have expected of her. Her unjust conformity though is only realized during her climactic confrontation with Torvald at the end of the play. She eventually admits that she needs to detach herself from things and people that force her to follow societal standards.

Taking into consideration the social and political attitude of Europe during Ibsen’s time towards women, Nora made a courageous decision to leave her family and walk into an uncertain future examining her life even though she’s aware that the society may not going to support her. The consequences of her decision are very uncertain whether she will succeed or fail as a person after gaining her independence.

 However the question whether is it right for Nora to leave her children for the sake of her independence may seem a selfish act for a mother to do. Nora’s clear and impassioned declaration of her bitterness as well as her decision to leave her family seems inappropriate that made the play extremely controversial. Ibsen himself made an alternate ending “in which Torvald makes Nora takes a last look at their children before leaving and, seeing them, she loses her will to go” (“A Doll’s House Review”).

This manifest that perhaps Ibsen is not advocating radical change the way others would want to believe it but he is just presenting mere realities that is truly apparent during his time. A Doll’s House is not a feminist literature. As a matter of fact Ibsen, the writer, believes in the importance of domestic roles and motherhood but also recognize the significance of exercising individual freedom.

Most people may well say that that a woman’s first responsibility is her family and children more importantly, but a woman’s ultimate responsibility as well is herself. Ibsen in this play successfully demonstrates the message that wives and mothers should not stop and be trapped by their domestic roles but should continually discover their true selves, their true strengths and potentials.

Women must experience true freedom. Nora in this play represent woman in the midst of society where males often oppresses females, reducing them to mere objects of playthings. That oppression often enslaved them restricting them to fully enjoy their individual freedom and eventually their God given potentials.


“A Doll’s House Review online”. Retrieved on 12 May 2009 from: <>

Gender Roles In Dolls House essay

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