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In the late 1800’s rigid gender roles set the character of both men and women. In a male dominant society, Men were expected to be educated and have a job. Women’s roles in society were to take care of the children, do the laundry, clean the house, and many more. She also had many duties to her husband like having dinner ready by the time he came home, and not to question anything he does. In A Doll’s House Henrik Ibsen portrays the roles of men and women and how they must act, and look, based on societies standards.
Through Torvald and Krogstad, Ibsen depicts how men must act and what the common beliefs were at the time. After Krogstad committed the crime of forgery the rest of society saw him as untrustworthy and it became difficult for him to have a job. Torvald also cares about how how he appears to society, it is clearly seen when he says “…From this moment happiness is not the question; all that concerns us is to save the remains, the fragments, the appearance.”(Ibsen:part3), he believes that if people find out about Nora’s crime they will think of him like they do of Krogstad.
By using Nora and Mrs.Linde Ibsen is able to delineate the struggle of women during this time. Torvald treats Nora like a little child for example when he says “Is it my little squirrel bustling about?”(ibsen, part1), and in his rule for Nora that she is not allowed to eat sweets. Other men probably treated their wives in a similar way. In the play women are portrayed as independent and fully capable which is the main cause for the controversy caused by the play.
The play is not as much about society and women’s rights as it is about a person’s struggle to figure out who they are and to strive to become that person. In the final scene Ibsen shows us that when someone is suppressed they can not reach anywhere close to their full potential. Nora realizes this and is able to understand that to figure out what kind of person she is she must leave the environment in which she is being oppressed.
Ibsen is very clever in the way he portrays society in general. He is able to accurately present the social norms of the time, and what is wrong with them, while also giving us a solution the need of every individual to find out the kind of person he or she really is and to strive to become that person.
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