Essay on A Dolls House

Submitted By nicolefrancis28
Words: 900
Pages: 4

Nicole Francis


Professor Keohane

April 19, 2013

The Changing of Gender Roles

Women often have trouble sticking to traditional views on gender roles with the changing of culture. Today, there are equal rights for women to obtain the same education as men. Many women work the same jobs, and even sometimes hold higher positions than men. The traditional family is hard to define in todays’ American society because there are such a variety of types of homes. In many cases, women are the leader of the home, or are the only parental figure in the household. Despite how fortunate women like myself are today, women of the late 1800s did not have the same opportunities. During the late 1800s, the traditional family was depicted as a working father, stay-at-home mother, and children. Many ideas of the nuclear family still define the role of family in society today, but it is not as structured as it was back then. “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen portrays how society and culture influence an individual’s sense of identity and come to understand themselves and their place in the world. Nora, the main character, is a mother and a wife and is largely influenced by the people and places around her. Nora is a beautiful, young woman who is married to a man named Torvald Helmer. Her husband is a hard working businessman and manager of a bank that has a lot of self- pride in his life accomplishments. He does not like to borrow or ask for help, and is very controlling in maintaining a stable work and family. His sense of pride reflects the judgment and standards of society. Helmer makes it very clear to Nora that he or she should never take a loan from anyone, no matter the situation. “But seriously, Nora, you know what I think about that. No debt, no borrowing. There can be no freedom or beauty about a home life that depends on borrowing and debt” (Ibsen, 354). If Helmer were to let Nora make major decisions then he would look weak to other businessmen. During this time period, it is common for the man of the household to be the only source of income and to feel superior inside the home to their wives. Winning male approval is present in society, and even still today. Though there has been much improvement, society views men as the masculine figures in relationships. Winning male approval consists of women holding themselves to high standards; cleaning up nicely, dressing nicely, watching their weight, and even “dumbing themselves down” in order to keep men from feeling inferior. Nora says, “ How could you think so? A man who has such strong opinions about these things! And besides, how painful and humiliated it would be for Torvold, with his many independence, to know that he owed me anything!” (Ibsen, 363). This depicts how women were not supposed to show signs of intelligence, as we learn Nora uses her brain behind her husbands back in order to do things for herself and her family, without her husband feeling emasculated. Nora meets with her old friend Christine and explains why she acts the way she does: “Yes – someday, perhaps, after my many years, when I am no longer as nice looking as I am now. Don’t laugh at me! I mean, of course, when Torvold is no longer as devoted to me as he is now; when my dancing and dressing-up and reciting have palled on him; then it may be a good…