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Discuss Ibsen’s presentation of gender in “A DollsHouse”?

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Introduction

Discuss Ibsen's presentation of gender in "A Dolls House"? Ibsen wrote 'A Dolls House' in 1879 - a time for of major social change, when women's suffrage was at a recognised focal point and more and more women were striving for equality and independence. A social drama on marriage, it raises questions about the female self-sacrifice in a male dominant world. The play focuses on the typical Victorian housewife Nora who has nothing truly personal to her character as she has been morally moulded and taken care of her whole life first by her father and secondly her husband Torvald "I've been your doll-wife here, just as at home I was Papa's doll-child." The story of her concentrates on the struggle for independent identity. Ibsen portrays strong usual gender traits in all of his characters, all the men seem to be of typical Victorian nature, and this is shown predominantly through Torvald. He is the businessman; the provider in his family and a reputable man in society. He has a superior attitude toward women and talks down to all female characters in the play. His consistent use of demeaning language toward Nora, his wife, and also the way he speaks to Mrs. Linde. All three men have values that are proud, honourable and masculine, although they are all fairly ruling and quite demoralizing toward Nora. ...read more.

Middle

Mrs. Linde and Anne-Marie support Nora in expressing the emotional strength that women have. Each woman tells her story of self-sacrifice: Anne-Marie giving up her children, Mrs. Linde forsaking her love for Krogstad in exchange for economic security and Nora who, finally realises that she has sacrificed her own identity to be in a secure and stable environment. Even though Mrs. Linde is a key figure in the story of Nora's secret, we see a lot more personal interaction between the two female roles with conversation compared to the male. As soon as the two women meet in the play they welcome each other warmly and get talking right away, touching on personal subjects such as the death of the husband of Mrs. Linde where she strokes Nora's hair. We do not see a one on one scene with Torvald and Dr. Rank but in any of their conversation we do not see any real friendly emotion. When Dr. Rank delivers his death card Torvald has no idea what his best friend is thinking of doing " What a gruesome idea - it's just as if he is announcing his own death." It does not take Torvald long to get over the matter either in suggesting that it was for the best for all of them (pg219). Ibsen here puts well the contrast in the female/male behaviour. ...read more.

Conclusion

Ibsen presents gender in the way that society saw themselves in 1879, men were the ruling fatherly figures toward women whilst women were deemed worthless and irresponsible, but through Nora Ibsen portrays the dramatic change that was occurring with more and more women getting tired of being fed hand to mouth by the men and so ventured out on their own to seek independence and purpose. The relevance to present day is that a lot of the issues and questions raised by Ibsen in the play are still significant 125 years later. Women are still struggling for equality in what still stands a male dominated world, all over the world. Caste systems were abolished (apart from India) but still the theme of it still relates to how women have to strive for equality. The attitude that men had 100 years ago toward women is till very much the same today: a majority of men still think that the woman's place is in the home, looking after her family. Women today still have to prove that we are of equal intelligence and capability. The plot of the story is still presented in dramas today - whether on stage or on Friday night television the storylines are kept very much the same: secrets and lies and the individuals strive for freedom and independence. I think both men and women of today's society can still envisage being in Nora or Torvald's position within a relationship. Harrow College Access Courses Assignment Unit Title: Literature Drama 1 Alaina O'Donoghue ...read more.

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