Ibsen Gender Roles

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Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House, was set in Norway during the 19th century. Our interactive orals surrounding this play address the gender roles and the political and economic development during the 1800s. The life of Ibsen himself was discussed as well.

Originally, I found myself examining the text from a modern-day lens, which hindered me from sympathizing with the protagonist, Nora Helmer, like Ibsen may have intended. Nora’s characterization seemed highly implausible as she transformed from a frivolous, submissive wife to a radical feminist in a matter of days. I, also, believe that Nora deserved some blame for allowing an egotistic, obsessive man like Torvald Helmer to control her for so long. Did it really take her 8 years of marriage …show more content…

I learnt that lives of women during this time were dictated by the expectations of society. They were viewed as the property of their fathers and, after marriage, their husbands, putting the men in a position of authority. Women at the time had no rights or freedoms; they were confined to their roles as obedient housewives and mothers. Meanwhile, men took on the responsibility to provide for the family financially. In this light, it became quite clear as to why Nora stayed with Torvald for as long as she did. Nora was not aware of the world of opportunities to live a different life and to set a course for her future, independent of men. Throughout her life, she had always been a chattel, first her father’s and then Torvald’s. It wasn’t until she rekindled her friendship with Kristina Linde, that she realized that there was a different way to live, igniting the spark that finally allowed her to leave Torvald. Relatedly, I felt more empathetic toward Torvald considering that he was simply representing the shared mindset of an average man during the time. With the idea of male superiority indoctrinated into him by society, he was unable to realize the error in his ways.

In A Doll’s House, Nora and Torvald conform to two distinct roles within a household in the 1850s. Owing to the interactive orals, I was able expand my knowledge on gender roles in the 1800s and, in turn, fully appreciate these two

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