A Doll's House- Why Nora Shouldn't Leave

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Nora Helmer Exposed:
Her Wrong Decision to Leave

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen was first performed in 1879 when European society strictly enforced male supremacy over women. The play consists of a middle class couple, Torvald and Nora Helmer, who seem to have the perfect marriage, three children, and a pending respectable income with the husband’s recent promotion to bank manager. Torvald treats Nora like a doll, manicuring and manipulating her looks and actions. Although his controlling demeanor is concealed by innocent nicknames and monetary allowances, the affects of his domination over his wife are eventually exposed. At the end of the play, Nora leaves in a haze of anguish after her husband fails to defend her when she is accused
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12). Author Marianne Weber includes that these types of laws were made in many countries following the growing trend of men willing to sacrifice their superiority over a working wife, rather than maintain complete patriarchal control over a dependent wife because it benefitted them like a “gainful employment” (Bebel par. 13). If it benefitted the man’s income while preserving and improving his honor and standing in his society, control over tedious things at home seems a small price to pay. It is possible that Torvald could have joined in this growing mindset as other men were doing in his 19th century society and allowed Nora to work and take on responsibilities at home, which would allow her to mature and find independence without rightfully leaving. Although it is possible that Nora could have demanded more responsibility at home and stayed and contributed to the family’s income by working, some say that Nora needed to leave to achieve her independence by providing for herself. However, considering her slim chances of sole survival as a woman, Nora cannot be justified in leaving for the sake of her independence when she is stepping into such a male biased society. Although a movement for women’s equality was beginning to stir in this era, the Norwegian Law of 1888, protecting the property of women, would not come for another nine years succeeding A Doll’s House. A large part of the male population still believed that women
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