Last Updated 12 Jan 2023

The Criticism of Sexism in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

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Through the eyes of society in the late 18005, women were seen only as incompetent pretty little nothings. Keeping an eyeful watch on the house, starting their pre-destined act of motherhood, and becoming followers on the narrow path behind their husbands were the duties of a woman. In Ibsen's A Doll's House, he criticizes the sexist ways women were exploited in 1879, during a time known as The Victorian Era. Nora's character. In A Doll's House, represents the treatment that every woman was subjected to during The Victorian Era. As pure little play dolls for their husbands, women were treated in extremely childish ways.

Such as the scene demonstrated in A Doll's House when Nora is caught in a lie, telling her husband no one was present at the house when indeed Helmer saw that Krogstad was there. Helmer wags his iinger at Nora and says, “ Never must my little songbird do a thing like that! Little songbirds must keep their pretty little beaks out of mischief; no chirruping out at time" (Ibsen 949). In the public eye, by men, women were essentially looked at as one man‘s honoring trophy. By other women they were looked at as one man's Wife, who would never be able to be independent or survive without her husband leading the way. Nora starts out in the play as the typical woman of her time, flowing through the house With hums of sweetness. However, she is sneaky by hiding such things as the macaroons, the Christmas tree, and presents. She also hides riskier subjects such as the forged unpaid loan she took out for her husband's life, and the blackmail presented by Krogstad, leaving her with the challenge of linding herself.

A challenge that the majority of women back in this era would not think tWIce ol attempting. Nora becomes very much aware of all the damage that can happen with her family concerning the blackmail. For the time Nora was present in, it would be logical for her to either reveal the truth to her husband or commit suicide, but instead she runs to other alternative solutions. Nora tries to undertake actions that were not very appropriate for women to take during the late 18005, and her fears end up leading her to hide the truth of the blackmail from her husband. However, when Helmer discovers the letter, Nora loses herself, her power of control. and is forced to face the music. This next scene in the play, when Helmer becomes aware ol the secret. represents the reaction a typical man would give to his wiie back in the Victorian era. As the truth of the letter lies revealed, Helmer becomes obsessed with the deterioration of his reputation.

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To Nora. he unveils his true self and heartlessly tells her how she is a hypocrite, a liar, an unlit mother. and coldly says to her, “ you have ruined my entire happiness...ieopaidized my whole future." (Ibsen 974) when in tact she did it so he could be alive to have a future. Regardless of how Helmer shoots down his wife With horrible putdowns, he still insists on staying together and hiding the truth. This made it clear to Nora that rather than being in an honorable marriage, Helmer was more concerned with the political aspect. Then when the l.O.U. was delivered, he rejoiced because his reputation was saved. Yet Nora had already seen his real feelings and realized that she was never truly loved by this stranger. So Without staying a night more. Nora leaves her life behind to take care of herself: independently. It was completely unheard of for women to walk out on their husbands and kids to start a new life during the Victorian era Women were just meant to sit and be pretty to be simple and allowed to do nothing! In Ibsen's A Doll House, he clearly attacks the dishonorable way women were treated during the Victorian era. However, throughout the play Nora becomes strong and at the end, it appears that she makes a stand against every stereotypical way women were looked all only as a wile. mother child‘ and basically pretty little nothing. It's obvious that at the end of the play Nora has had enough, walks out the door, and leaves behind the feminist criticism that she had to endure.

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