Symbolism in A Doll's House

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Nora is the main character in the play A Doll’s House as well as its overall sense of inability and its decisions that seem to be bold at the first notice but become more logical when context and culture are properly considered, making her a character that ultimately portrays how significant and influential the role of gender was in Norway during the Victorian era. A case of Nora’s inability is the way she needs to go to various individuals for help with receiving a bank loan that she later took out. It also shows how submissive she is to Torvald inside and out, and how she needs to ask Torvalds for authorization to do apparently everything in her everyday life. This shows the difference between gender roles and how men are the ones in charge. It’s essential to notice that this aspect of the play is present due to the fact for the duration of this time period, there has been an increased emphasis on realism. Realism is essentially the concept of creating literary works and the theatrical performances more sensible and relatable. This contextual information brings light to the fact of Nora being submissive and the importance of gender roles throughout this time period.

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To begin with, Nora and Torvald’s marriage has become much more apparent than ever, which might be ideal by the standards of our days. Instead, they are quite separated, and honestly, it seems like the relationship between a father and daughter rather than a marriage. They are far apart from each other because they just don’t interact hardly anything with each other and most conversations involve situations like these where Nora needs money from Torvald so that she can shop and then Torvald would call her a ‘spendthrift’ (Ibsen 2). They are also portrayed as a perfect couple with Nora being stunning and Torvald a successful banker, but their relationship is completely fake. Torvald is very controlling, mainly acting rather than a husband but as Nora’s puppeteer. This aspect of a woman living with her husband, who is more of a maid or a caretaker than an actual wife can be linked to the average individual, by highlighting the essential role a woman must play with her husband. In addition, Torvald controls Nora heavily. He constantly discourages her and even gives her an allowance, as if she were his child. He calls her ‘my little spendthrift,’ ‘my little featherbrain,’ and ‘my little lark’ (Ibsen 2). These little names that Torvald calls Nora definitely symbolize their relationship to a very undermining and even dehumanizing sort. Their relationship fairly marks how males were often considered superior to females during this period. This representation is very important for Torvald because it provides insight into his gender roles toward Nora. Torvald not only influences her social status but also controls all Nora’s free time. Nora can not associate with people that Torvald knows personally. Throughout this play, Nora can only work with other high-ranking people like Mr. Krogstad, who is presumably a wealthy person since he loans Nora money. The representation of gender roles found in the play is this concept of being able to spend time with other individuals is something that Torvald would consider being appropriate. This should not be self-rule indicates that it was a male job to guarantee that his wife behaved in society, essentially changing the way a wife is supposed to be.

Ultimately, Nora’s role outside her own house has also been shown to little if any. The only time Nora leaves her house is when she is doing something Torvald approves during the play, it becomes apparent when she goes to the market for clothing and food, which Nora mentioned, “When Torvald gave me money for clothes, and so on, I never spent more than half of it; I always bought the simplest and cheapest things” (Ibsen 7). This shows that she is still controlled by Torvald even though she is not in Torvald’s house and supposedly would have been free. From outside the fear of furious Torvald, she buys the simplest and cheapest clothing. Considering that Nora has no choice if she can remain and live with Torvald, or whether she leaves Torvald, and may well be that men have controlled women of that time. It should be remembered, though, that this play was highly inspired by the fact that it was performed in a Norwegian region in 1879. There was a huge emphasis on humanism and realism when the playing was created, which were significant theater trends of the era. Some of this highlights the realistic and descriptive aspects of the play. The play usually covers these topics, however, several examples may seem unrealistic particularly when suicide is not taken into consideration in context and culture. When considering the context and culture of this play, her decision to commit suicide is still much more relevant and realistic.

During this time period, when a woman decides to leave their husband is a bad look for them because they are viewed as they are unable to take care of themselves. Nora is sure that she would be upset by Torvald for the buildup of debt. She, therefore, decides that she will attempt suicide to save both of them. Even if it doesn’t appear especially rational to consider suicide over divorce, it does become even more evident in the sense that it’s the only solution. During that time husbands could, against their will, send their wives to an asylum, and because they were controlled by them. This was a way for husbands to break away from their wives. This would save the man not only energy and time but also save his reputation if he was seen as heartless and incapable of keeping a marriage.

Given this context and culture, it is very important for gender roles not only to enable Nora to be physically controlled by Torvald but also to monitor his future when it comes to all of the severe outcomes that Nora would have if she left. It demonstrates that Nora does not have a choice in her life as all women do throughout this time period even though she wasn’t happy in her marriage.

Nora is certainly playing a very significant role in the demonstration of influential gender roles during the Victorian era in Norway, with all this context and culture as well as information from the play itself. A Doll’s House is the play itself, and Noras is the doll to whom the title refers. Although Torvald controls her and is mainly why she acts the way she does Nora emphasizes the meaning of her limited life and of the way she behaves. A rather specific key theme is developed with all of this in mind. In the time in which the play was written, women had very little or no independence and complications resulted from it, and the theme refers to the importance of gender roles. Nora has no say in her own acts, much like most women of that period. Her husband regulates, however, even outside the house she has little independence. Eventually, the same as a doll she has also been made to live a perfect life that matches Torvald. While Torvald tends to have been the cause of the issue, Nora conveys it as a doll. It is also very certain that Nora, with all this evidence, is dominant in the role of gender in A Doll’s House. 

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