A Doll’s House Essay

1511 Words 7 Pages
The enforcement of specific gender roles by societal standards in 19th century married life proved to be suffocating. Women were objects to perform those duties for which their gender was thought to have been created: to remain complacent, readily accept any chore and complete it “gracefully” (Ibsen 213). Contrarily, men were the absolute monarchs over their respective homes and all that dwelled within. In Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House, Nora is subjected to moral degradation through her familial role, the consistent patronization of her husband and her own assumed subordinance. Ibsen belittles the role of the housewife through means of stage direction, diminutive pet names and through Nora’s interaction with her morally ultimate …show more content…
Ibsen utilizes the boundaries of the “inexpensively furnished” (147) room to create Nora’s symbolic cage displaying how she is physically unable to leave the confines of the room and the role in which every 19th century wife must play. In Act I, Nora plays her façade of the frivolous “funny little spendthrift” (150) in an effort to seem as defenseless as the woodland creatures Torvald finds so endearing and subsequently patronizing. Nora’s quarantine is enhanced as she is called a “squirrel…skylark, and little bird” (150) by Torvald, infantilizing her character and consequently solidifying her inability to escape the confines of her assumed womanly role. Nora readily assumes the position of a subordinate and feeble woman to protect the illusion she perceives as a complete home in addition to avoid “[being] completely alone” (154). This absolute isolation in adherence to the role in which she has been nurtured to conform to is slowly deteriorating her character, which is displayed in the increased sporadic nature of “poor little Nora’s” (152) actions and her lack of ability to focus as the play progresses. Nora’s childlike behaviors steadily become more obvious as her fixated birdcage becomes increasingly suffocating, the discomfort with her current isolation grows and as her mask of perfection slowly disintegrates.

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