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A Doll Who Wants Out
During the Victorian Era (1837-1901), women were viewed as pure and clean. Their
bodies were seen as temples that should not be adorned with jewelry or used for physical exertion or pleasurable sex. A woman was to bear children and tend to the house. They were to be respectable and always devoted to their husbands. She was expected to be the moral superior of the household. Having children was a woman’s highest achievement and helped her to
experience spiritual and emotional fulfillment. Married women were completely dependent on their husbands. All decisions were made by the man. A woman was helpless and had no independence. Most women just assumed this was the way it was for a reason and could not be changed. Nora Helmer tried desperately to fulfill the traditional role of women in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Nora’s attempts to fulfill the role are thwarted by her own individual emotions.She cannot ignore what she is feeling inside herself. She realizes that by fulfilling her traditional role she has lost her individuality. Nora leaves her husband, her children, her sense of duty, and her traditional values in order to embrace the opportunity of succeeding or failing in life while discovering who she really is as a person.
Nora certainly is not a modern woman trapped in a traditional society. She is very much
the traditional woman. This traditional role expresses itself very clearly in her behavior
throughout much of the play. Like other women of the time, Nora has never had a chance to grow up and to experience the difficulties that come with life. Because of this lack of life experiences, she behaves and thinks much like a child would. She never objects to her being treated like a child by her husband. She does not express discontent for Torvald when alone. She seems quite content with the status quo. She has no responsibilities even with her own children. The maids at the Helmer household care for the children. The only...
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