The Rebellion of Nora in A Doll's House
A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, was written during a time when the role of woman was that of comforter, helper, and supporter of man. The play generated great controversy due to the fact that it featured a female protagonist seeking individuality. A Doll's House was one of the first plays to introduce woman as having her own purposes and goals. The heroine, Nora Helmer, progresses during the course of the play eventually to realize that she must discontinue the role of a doll and seek out her individuality. David Thomas describes the initial image of Nora as "that of a doll wife who revels in the thought of luxuries that can now be afforded, who is become with flirtation, and engages in childlike acts of disobedience" (Thomas 259). This inferior role from which Nora progressed is extremely important.
Ibsen's A Doll's House depicts the role of women as subordinate in order to emphasize the need to reform their role in society. Definite characteristics of the women's subordinate role in a relationship are emphasized through Nora's contradicting actions. Her infatuation with luxuries such as expensive Christmas gifts contradicts her resourcefulness in scrounging and buying cheap clothing; her defiance of Torvald by eating forbidden Macaroons contradicts the submission of her opinions, including the decision of which dance outfit to wear, to her husband; and Nora's flirtatious nature contradicts her devotion to her husband. These occurrences emphasize the facets of a relationship in which women play a dependent role: finance, power, and love.
Ibsen attracts our attention to these examples to highlight the overall subordinate role that a woman plays compared to that of her husband. The two sides of Nora contrast each other greatly and accentuate the fact that she is lacking in independence of will. The mere fact that Nora's well-intentioned action is considered illegal reflects woman's subordinate position in society; but it is her actions that provide the insight to this position. It can be suggested that women have the power to choose which rules to follow at home, but not in the business world, thus again indicating her subordinateness.
Nora does not at first realize that the rules outside the household apply to her. This is evident in Nora's meeting with Krogstad regarding her borrowed money. In her opinion it was no crime for a woman to do everything possible to save her husband's life. She also believes that her act will be overlooked because of her desperate situation. She fails to see that the law does not take into account the motivation behind her forgery. Marianne Sturman submits that this meeting with Krogstad was her first confrontation with the reality of a "lawful society" and she deals with it by attempting to distract herself with her Christmas decorations (Sturman 16). Thus her first encounter with rules outside of her...