Playing House Essay

1146 words - 5 pages

Genders have always played a major role in society and the household throughout history. These conventions are the rules that society functions from and more importantly the ideals crucial to ones overall social status. Husbands are to support the family with financial success, which involves freedom from debt and moral guilt; meanwhile, wives have a submissive role and are to be economically and socially dependent on their husbands. Some form of gender stereotype has been a foundation to social structures throughout time. Henrik Ibsen challenges the ideals of the bourgeoisie lifestyle and gives the reader a different perspective through the play A Doll’s House. Ibsen breaks down the ...view middle of the document...

Nora occasionally spends time with the children, but she asks permission to hold her own daughter as if she has no possession or control of her. She calls her children “dolls” (Isben 907) and enjoys dressing and undressing them as if they were her play dolls. Any other motherly duties are for the nanny. Starting with the title and throughout the progression of the play, the reader can see the dynamic of the characters and their roles in the figurative and literal dollhouse.
Even though Nora has a set role by society, she begins to act different behind Torvald’s back in order to secretly save the family. However, Torvald has no idea what she is doing with the money. Nora’s first act of performance challenging her role as a bourgeoisie wife begins in the first act of the play. When an old friend of Nora’s, Mrs. Kristine Linden, arrives to the scene the play shows Nora rejecting Torvald’s role as the provider and taking matters into her own hands. Nora tells Mrs. Linden of Torvald’s sickness and the order they have received to move south in order to improve his health. At that moment, the play shows Nora becoming a provider as she explains she gathered loans from Krogstad to help allow them to travel. Nora has taken control over just about everything including her husband. “The Nora we have observed during the play has not seemed a passive creature wholly molded by others. Ibsen has depicted her as willingly playing the doll game to her own advantage” (Johnston 161). She appears to be a much stronger person by taking pride in her secret saving his life. Nora continues to perform her role as a doll, but she challenges if a woman can contribute to a family as well especially behind her husband’s back.
Ibsen shows performance in the form of flirtation as a safe guard. Throughout the whole play, flirtation is a safe performance, which allows for safe reading. “That’s not what I meant to say” easily covers any statement taken too far or too serious. During Nora and Dr. Rank’s conversation about Dr. Rank’s sickness, Nora takes control of him by using a flirtatious performance showing him her silk stockings asking, “Aren’t they lovely? It’s so dark here now; but to-morrow¬–No, no, no; you must only look at the...

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