Feminism in the play A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

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The main idea of a play A Doll’s House was not understood for a long time. Many readers and critics were thinking what it was really about and written for. Finally it was defined that the main idea of the Ibsen’s creation is the most significant fight of the past and present century – the struggle against the awful repression of women in their families. Nora’s last refuse from all her customary communal responsibilities is the most well-known impressive statement in representation of this fight in literature. This made the author of the play a highly praised defender of women’s human rights and the play itself turned into a very important declaration that feminists repetitively use to support their grounds. Thus, in feedbacks and explanations of this creation, one usually comes across the next idea:

Patriarchy’s socialization of women into servicing creatures is the major accusation in Nora’s painful account to Torvald of how first her father, and then he, used her for their amusement. . . how she had no right to think for herself, only the duty to accept their opinions.  Excluded from meaning anything, Nora has never been subject, only object  (Templeton 142).

Torvald’s attitude towards Nora

When reading Ibsen’s A Doll’s House the reader can notice that feminism is a really dominant topic in this writing. All through the story one can find a lot of instances of Torvald’s improper attitude towards Nora just because she is a woman. He emphasized her weakness by giving her names of pets that is seen from the text: “Is that my little lark
twittering out there?… Is it my little squirrel bustling about?” (Ibsen 2)

Moreover it is noticeable, that Nora usually acts in accordance with Torvald’s wishes. She makes every step thinking about his opinion, having no independence both socially and mentally: “When did my squirrel come home? ….Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?” (Ibsen 3). These citations show that the woman could not make any decisions herself. She is treated mostly as a stupid child. Helmer did not actually apply to her as to adult person. Pets’ names used testify that he does not consider her to be clever nor mature enough to be called another way (Marker 34).

In her turn Nora, not being really stupid, knows well the attitude of her husband towards her, so she pretends to be as simple as possible not to make the situation worse. For instance, while getting ready for the ball, Nora asks her husband what she should be dressed in, at the same time as she could decide herself.

There are a lot of examples which testify that feminism is a topic in Ibsen’s creation. The way Helmer speaks to his wife in the next. He always addresses her as if she simply can’t really understand anything, and he accepts this fact because can’t expect anything else from her as from a woman. “That is like a woman!” is his usual phrase met in conversation with his wife (Templeton 140).

Torvald does not express any respect to Nora. For him she is a pet he is teaching to be submissive and to please him. Also it is obvious that Helmer never had a serious conversation with his wife since she’s a woman and simply could not understand what he was talking about.

Nora’s position

If to choose between different terms feminism is applied to this writing best. It is seen in the way how its main female hero is repressed. The author demonstrates how a housewife is removed from the society by her repressed position. This demonstration reveals a shocking essence of humans. Nora is actually a Doll who is supposed to be the mistress of the house; however this “mistress” does not really have any visible power in it (Templeton 140).

Nora lived not for herself but for others and the only way for her to announce her autonomy and to make other people recognize her individuality was self-murder. The woman had to do about the house. Her husband was the supplier who worked at the day time and had a rest at night. The husband and his wife had absolutely determined functions. Finally they arrive at a point where a caution warning sign sparkle and some kind of a justice must then be applied (Marker 35).

The complete failure led Nora to re-evaluate about her status. When Torvald was sick she saved an amount of cash to assist a recovering, however was not able to do anything herself. She wanted to try to receive some money, but her social position did not allow her to do this. Finally something awful occurs that cause a response from the repressed. Nora understood that she was not a personality in a society, she was simply a “doll” for her dad and Helmer. She was accountable for the children and the dwelling; however her power on any important actions was negligible.


A woman’s behavior is evaluated thought the “masculine law,” so she is not able to be “herself” in contemporary society. This was the idea of Henrik Ibsen in his play “A Doll’s House” that was perfectly expressed in this play. “A Doll’s House” is a unique cry for independence that inspires women to develop their feminist views and continue their struggle. The long-lasting significance of the play starts with the Ibsen’s humane understanding of the position of Nora and her feelings.

List of Works Cited

Ibsen, Henrik.  A Doll’s House.  In Four Major Plays.  Trans. James McFarlane and Jens Arup.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Marker, Frederick J. and Lise-Lone Marker, Ibsen’s Lively Art: A Performance Study of the Major Plays.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Templeton, Joan.  Ibsen’s Women.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997


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