Literary Structure In A Doll's House

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19th century Norway experienced a great economic boom, with both wealth and prosperity being granted to the upper middle class. In this background, Henrik Ibsen attempts to reveal and criticise explicitly the apparent problems in society that no one wishes to acknowledge. Nora and Torvald, the two main characters in the play A Doll’s House, represent the typical middle class family, who show the audience a yearning for financial success without debt, a desire for upward social mobility, and the maintenance of a secure patriarchal marriage. Such factors are portrayed throughout the play through the use of diction, tone, and various literary devices.

The financial success of the Helmer family is revealed through the description of the living
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For example, Torvald refers to Nora using words such as “my skylark,” “my squirrel,” “my songbird,” and “my little spendthrift.” The word “my” indicates a possessive tone, and it suggests that women were regarded as possessions and as objects, not human beings who should be treated equally as men. Additionally, the animals that are used to describe Nora creates an imagery that makes her look frail, weak, and pretty, just like a doll - Nora is treated as if she is a small animal that can be kept in a cage. This indicates the position of a woman in the household - she was to please her husband by looking pretty and clever, while the husband was the one who could control her and give her allowances (the wife was subservient to her husband). In 19th century Norway patriarchal ideals were greatly supported by the people and women had almost no political or economic power - upon marriage, every single property a woman owned was passed on to the husband. Similar to Nora, the only job of a Victorian woman was to look after her children and the home. Furthermore, there was very little a woman could do for herself - she could not earn money without her husband’s consent, neither could she borrow any money unless she had the signature of her father or husband. The incompetence of Nora is highlighted in the stage direction on page 26 - Nora “plays with his [Torvald’s] coat buttons; not looking at him.” In order for Nora to receive money she has no choice but to appeal to Torvald her sexuality; this indicates how Nora is inferior to Torvald and that she must flirt with him to gain control. This successfully represents the life of a middle class woman in the 19th century - a married woman was not allowed to have personal possessions, neither could she write a will. She had to be dependent on her husband for money and her full
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