"How far Nora is a tragic heroine in Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House"
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IB Oral Oral Exposé on - Presentation Date: March 3rd-7th 2003 "How far Nora is a tragic heroine in Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House" On a frigid April day in 1864, Henrik Ibsen arrived at the docks in the Norwegian capital of Oslo (then called Christiania). The young man was a failure. The theater he'd run had closed, and none of his own plays were successful. Disillusioned by his country and society, Ibsen, together with his wife and son, boarded a ship and left Norway, figuratively slamming the door behind him. Fifteen years later a similarly disillusioned Nora Helmer would slam the door on stage at the end of A Doll's House, helping to change the course of modern drama. Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentleman, today I will be doing an oral exposé on How far Nora Helmer is a tragic heroine in Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House". The tragic events in a play enable critics to consider it a "tragedy", one which to some extent follows and diverges from the Aristotelian definition. Aristotle believed that tragedy must revolve around a central character known as "the tragic hero, on whom the plot focuses and who exhibits certain characteristics, which leads to his, though in this particular case, her downfall. A tragic heroine is the female version of a tragic hero and is defined as one who tries to remain true to oneself and will do anything to preserve herself.
Through this, Ibsen seems to be saying that your greatest duty is to understand yourself. At the beginning of the play, Nora does not realize she has a self. Nora is still a child in many ways, listening at doors and guiltily eating forbidden sweets behind her husband's back. She has gone straight from her father's house to her husband's, bringing along her nursemaid to underline the fact that she's never grown up. She is simply playing a role. The purpose of her life now is to please Torvald and raise the children. By the end of the play, she discovers that her "most sacred duty" is to herself. She leaves to find out who she is and what she thinks. Ibsen refused to be called a feminist, preferring to be known as a humanist. He had little patience with people, male or female, who did not stand up for their rights and opinions. He even argued that society's rules came from the traditionally male way of thinking. He saw the woman's world as one of human values, feelings, and personal relationships, all of which Nora severed en route to freedom with her destructive cause. In "A Dolls House" Nora can't really see how it is wrong to forge a name in order to save a life, whereas her husband Torvald, would rather die than break the law or borrow money.
Ibsen through this play is clearly describing the increasingly selfish society being spawned in this world, and he shows through Nora, the tragic heroine, the struggle to break free from society's moors, values, and binding dogmas. At the end of the play the readers are enlightened with an epiphany that shows how Nora's duty to know herself, is more important than her female role was, is, or ever will be. Nora's unfulfilled and under appreciated potential is what fuels her destructive cause and clearly depicts her as a genuine tragic heroine. Nora as a Tragic Heroine - Edward Beyer (The Man & His Work, 1980) 'The modern tragedy' does not end in ruin, as Ibsen originally had intended, but in a new start. However, values are destroyed as the whole of Nora's world collapses. This happens precisely because she is true to the best in herself. She grows in stature, and is purged by suffering. In defeat she is victorious. In the majority of theories about 'the tragic' these are significant factors. When everything lies in ruins round her, Nora emerges strong and independent as never before, and takes the consequences of her newly gained understanding she is in the process of becoming 'herself;' at the same time she points to a freer and more honest humanity in a healthier society. It is in this sense that she is a modern, tragic heroine, and the play precisely what it claims to be, a 'modern tragedy'. 1
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