A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen is my favorite text we have read during the duration of this course. Despite its age, it remains relevant through its depiction of relations between men and women. Further, the roles of men and women in a marriage and society are explored throughout.
An example of the exploration of roles of men and women in a marriage can be found in the third act, on page 182,
“We have been married for eight years now. Doesn’t it occur to you that this is the first time, the two of us, you and I, man and wife, are talking seriously together?…He called me his doll-child, and he played with me, just as I played with my dolls.”(pg. 182)
Nora expresses her disgust towards her eight-year marriage because she realizes that her and her partner have never understood each other. This evokes a sense of newfound relief in Nora. She reflects on her life, which has been filled with mistreatment and objectification at the hands of men who were meant to love and protect her. The men in her life treated her as a “doll”. They did not respect her opinions, disregarded her feelings, and used her to fulfil their needs before her own. As a result, she feels used by those she trusted and loved. As a result, Nora realizes her need for independence of a life that was crafted for her,
“You’re crazed! You are not permitted! I forbid you!”
“It’ll be no use forbidding me anything from now on. I’ll take with me what belongs with me what belongs to me. From you I want nothing, either now or later”
Nora acknowledges that throughout her life, she possessed little control over each detail of her own life. As a result of this acknowledgment, Nora realizes to free herself from the dependent and fated life she lives is to abandon those who orchestrated it. Through rejection of her husband’s forbiddings, condemnations, and eventual pleas to provide her with aid, she shatters the barriers created by her father and husband that were designed to keep her dependent and complacent. Nora’s newfound independence and parting with all she has known is essential to her coming self-actualization. Her enthusiastic embrace of the unknown is the driving force in the escape from the oppressive life she has lead.
I have a great admiration for Nora. She recognized that those who were supposed to love her and risk life and limb to protect her planted barriers that inhibit her freedoms and will. I admire her for her courage to free herself from a conventional and safe, for the bold, free life which she comes to desire. In this day and age, the world needs more people who are willing to risk everything in order to access the freedoms they have been denied. Any action can be the first domino in one’s path to self-actualization. Personally, I cannot relate to Nora’s struggles, however, I hold a deep admiration and respect for the choice she made. In my own life, I can not only assist those who are stuck in unwilling, restrictive situations, but also apply the courage of Nora in my own life. By doing so, I can address the factors and situations that hold me back as a person, and confront the barriers that inhibit my own self-actualization.