Personal Response – A Doll’s House

Prior to the introduction of, A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen, we were given an introduction through a handout, introducing the characters and the theme of the book. The introduction helps us ease into a mindset to explore the topic of which the play addresses. The theme being the societal expectations and gender roles at its time (19th century).

Although the women’s gender role for the time can be regarded as very domestic, meaning their role was largely in the house such as caring for the kids and cleaning, it was during the time of when the role of woman in the West began to make significant differences. We can see this change from Kristine Linde as she did multiple different jobs to sustain herself and her family. Although she did not really have another choice, Linde continues to work as she felt pleasure in working. This contrast between Linde’s progressive lifestyle and Nora’s traditional lifestyle highlights the gender equality of the 19th century. However, I found it very interesting to explore the difference between the two women during a time of change.

When we finish the play, I found the ending hilarious as we see the hilarious duality of man, that is Torvald Helmer. For example, Helmer went against his philosophy by announcing, “Name me this miraculous thing,” (p. 188). Although I found it hilarious, Torvald’s character embodies both the societal expectations and the emotional vulnerability that is often hidden behind man. Initially, Torvald seems to be a one-dimensional character, the ending of the play reveals the complexity of his personality and the contradictions inherent in societal expectations of gender roles.