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The roles of men and women are defined by the cultural conventions and expectations of their society, and those who challenge these expectations may face personal crisis - Discuss this statement with reference to Ibsen's A Doll House.

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Introduction

The roles of men and women are defined by the cultural conventions and expectations of their society, and those who challenge these expectations may face personal crisis Discuss this statement with reference to Ibsen's A Doll House. Henrik Ibsen was born in Skein a small Norwegian coastal town, on March 20 1828. In 1838 his father went bankrupt and the family was forced to live in near poverty. Ibsen was a young man of intense democratic ideas. He went against the restraints of society. He was willing enough to behave himself, but he did not want to be required by society to do so. He felt that society was a tyrant requiring the individual to do this or that. Ibsen was at war with the authorities of church, state, and the social government. Ibsen's life greatly influenced his plays. The 19th century society had their own expectations put onto men and women of the time. Men were superior and were the protectors over their wife's. The women were seen as inferior but were what their husbands wanted them to be. They were to be typical house wives if a maid or servant was not present. Society's expectations were what every household took into consideration and strictly followed. ...read more.

Middle

Nora throughout the play becomes a stronger character which is evident to the audience but ironically in that Torvald does not realise what Nora has done for him. At the beginning of the play, Nora rebelled against Torvald by eating the "forbidden" macaroons. Then, without Torvald knowing it, Nora had forged her father's signature to borrow money so that she and her husband could spend a year in Italy. Nora considered the success as something she can be "proud of". In order to repay Krogstad, Nora worked as a copier. Instead of being tired of it, she thought, "it was really tremendous fun and almost like being a man" (p 162). Her wishes for money from Torvald to repay Krogstad and flirt with Dr. Rank also reveals that she is not as naive as she seemed to be. Torvald's role in A doll House is defined by the cultural conventions and expectations of society. Torvald challenges these expectations in a bid to keep his marriage intact but fails to do so. Men in the Victorian society were expected to be strong, active, and to be a role model to the society. Torvald was trying to play this role, but he did not succeed. ...read more.

Conclusion

Torvald is ashamed of Nora and this is why after he claims that Nora can't bring up the children and that she is a hypocrite and a liar he is determined to put it behind him so as to avoid society's criticism. "From now on happiness doesn't matter; all that matters is saving the bits and pieces, the appearance." (Act 3 p106) This quote supports that Torvald is going against society by trying to hide it so people and society don't judge him on it. He wants to create his household upon lies and more deceit. Nora comes to realise that this is not right. " I'm a human being, no less then you- or anyway, I ought to try to become one" (Act 3 p 111) This quote shows Nora's turning point where she knows she has in eight years achieved nothing in a marriage. So she once again goes against society's expectations and leaves the household to try and become a 'human being'. The roles of men and women in Ibsen's A Doll House are very evident through Nora the sweet innocent housewife and Torvald the provider and protector. These two characters challenge society's expectations and conventions and through this they are both faced with the crisis of society's criticism. This is what sets these two characters apart in the end of the play A Doll House. Natalie De Roberto 27 May 2003 ...read more.

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