English Research Notes

English Research Notes - Act I Women and Men Women and Men...

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Act I Women and Men:   Women and Men:  This play focuses on the way that women are seen, especially in the context of marriage and  motherhood. Torvald, in particular, has a very clear and narrow definition of a woman's role. He  believes that it is the sacred duty of a woman to be a good wife and mother. Moreover, he tells  Nora that women are responsible for the morality of their children. In essence, he sees women as  both child-like, helpless creatures detached from reality and influential moral forces responsible  for the purity of the world through their influence in the home.  "HEL: That is like a woman!"  "NORA: It was like being a man."  "HEL: Almost everyone who has gone to the bad early in life has had a deceitful mother."  "HEL: It seems most commonly to be the mother's influence, though naturally a bad father's  would have the same result."  "NORA: Because one is a woman it does not necessarily follow that--- When anyone is in a  subordinate position, Mr. Krogstad, they should really be careful to avoid offending anyone who-"  The perception of manliness is also discussed, though in a much more subtle way. Nora's  description of Torvald suggests that she is partially aware of the lies inherent in the male role as  much as that of the female. Torvald's conception of manliness is based on the value of total  independence. He abhors the idea of financial or moral dependence on anyone. His desire for  independence leads to the question of whether he is out of touch with reality.  "NORA: And, besides, how painful and humiliating it would be for Torvald, with his manly  independence, to know that he owed me anything! It would upset our mutual relations altogether;  our beautiful happy home would no longer be what it is now." "NORA: Christine is tremendously  clever at bookkeeping, and she is frightfully anxious to work under some clever man, so as to  perfect herself"  Tied to the discussion of men and women are the frequent references to Nora's father.  Throughout the play, there are references to Nora's father. Furthermore, Nora is frequently  equated with him, from her actions (though people think he gave Nora and Torvald the money for  their trip to Italy, it was actually Nora) to her disposition. Quotations like the one below suggest  that Nora does wish that she were like her father and, taking that further, male. Her desire  suggests a deeper understanding of the confinement she faces than might otherwise be  apparent.  "HEL: Very like your father.  NORA: Ah, I wish I had inherited many of Papa's qualities"  Act III: Dr. Rank and Mrs. Linde:
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