Faith McKenney English 112 Research Paper 2 May 2017 Criticism of Traditional Marriage and a Woman’s Role in A Doll’s House According to James Henslin in his Essentials of Sociology , gender is the main divider of people in society; no matter what society is being looked at, men are always favored, despite women having larger numbers. While Henslin is writing from a modern point of view, the idea of men being superior has existed for as long as humans have existed. Male dominance over women, especially in marriage, was once deemed essential for the survival of the human race. Marriage was a rigid and eternally binding commitment where women had to give up what free- dom they had to live as property of their husbands. Henrik Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House in the late 1870s. This was a time of strict gender roles; marriage was a sacred covenant exclusively be- tween a man and a woman. Ibsen’s play was controversial for criticizing traditional marriage and the limited rights of women; it takes a seemingly flawless marriage and dissects it into a more flawed and realistic situation involving money, children, and a woman’s confined role. Keeping in line with traditional marriage, the husband, Torvald, is written as the primary breadwinner of the household in A Doll’s House . However, although Ibsen begins the play writ- ing as though Torvald controls all of the money, he allows the women in the story to be involved with money later. The main conflict arises from the wife, Nora, getting involved with money. At first, Nora seems obsessed with but clueless about money and goes to Torvald to receive it in an almost childish way. Nora says: “You might give me money, Torvald. Only just as much as you can afford; then one of these days I will buy something with it” (758). The reader later finds out that Nora has a reason for being so obsessed with money; in order to help her husband, she took
out an illegal loan and is now in debt. Nora risks her and her husband’s reputations to save his life; something that the law and society saw as an immoral action. Nora says: “According to it [the law] a woman has no right to spare her old dying father, or to save her husband’s life. I can’t believe that” (808). Professor Saman Salah Balaky writes: “Nora’s absence from the public sphere makes her economically completely dependent on her husband and even the private sphere does not belong to her alone. As a man Torvald not only controls public affairs but also the private ones.” Mrs. Linde, Nora’s friend, handles money because she is widowed and needs to provide for herself. She gets a job from Torvald rather than immediately getting remarried. The reader learns that Mrs. Linde had been forced to marry for money in the past, so her remain- ing independent for a significant period of time shows her as being more than just a wife who uses her husband for money. Both women actually enjoy making their own money, even though Nora seems too ignorant to understand it, as evidenced by when Nora says: “It was a tremendous pleasure to sit there working and earning money. It was like being a man” (765), and when Mrs.
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- Fall '15
- Tracey Kaminer
- A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen