Social Expectations In A Doll's House

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In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, the three-act play, set in 19th century Norway, explores the progress of Nora’s marriage as she attempts to hide her debt and forgery from her husband. Ibsen conveyed social commentary on gender roles and societal expectations, a topic still in controversy, through the use of symbolism, irony, and dramatic elements. In A Doll’s House, Ibsen presents the problems associated with the position of women in a man’s world of business as his central focus, even if other social or individual problems become more prominent as the play progresses.

Ibsen, in his working notes, observed that “...a woman cannot be herself in today’s society”, since society in the 19th century, particularly in Norway, was exclusively male.
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During act III, Nora asked to speak to Torvald after her performance of the tarantella dance. The following conversation demonstrated her quest for autonomy and freedom, as well as Torvald’s inadequate responses to her arguments and demands; it also showed how deeply connected her unhappy situation is with society’s regulation of the relationship between the sexes. She asserts that she is “...first and foremost a human being”, and her strong conviction that her womanhood, and the expectations associated with it, are secondary, strengthens her resolve to make a radical choice: A break with both husband and, with necessity due to her legal position, her children (Ibsen, 184). During her conversation with Torvald, she proclaims, “I have other sacred duties...The duties to myself (Ibsen, 184).” Her existential choice seems to be forced upon her by society, but in adopting her husband‘s and society’s language, so often used to contain in control women, she now speaks of her duties towards herself, even sacred ones. In a radical refusal to stick to inherited notions of women’s role in family and society, Nora rejects the other identities available to her, both as a doll and as self-sacrificing wife and mother, and of her husband’s pet names for

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