JaredDavisMrs.WilliamsENG102-71ResearchPaper on “A Doll’s House”11/20/17Torvald’sDominance in “A Doll’s House”A major theme that Ibsen introduced inthe drama “A Doll’s House” was the dominance of men over women inrelationships. He showed marriage as an unequal partnership, where Torvaldcontrolled Nora in all aspects of her life. In the play “A Doll’s House,”Henrik Ibsen showed how Torvald’s dominance over Nora turned her character intoa secretive wife, deceitful friend, and neglectful mother as a secret from thepast unfolded. Noratransformed into a dark and mysterious spouse as Ibsen created Torvald’scharacter to overpower her. In Ibsen’s play, Nora lied to everyone she met byhiding the truth of a forged document because she was afraid of how her husbandwould react if the secret was revealed (869).
Nora was concerned that thissecret would transform her into an outcast in her husband’s eyes. Penny Farfan stated,”this forgery, however, is perhaps a greater crime in the less literal sense ofbeing a usurpation of the masculine privilege of authority.” Farfan argued thatthe act of forgery was not the crime. In fact, she declared that Nora disrespectedthe masculine authority of Torvald by securing the loan without his consent. Norawas frightened that Torvald would see this crime as a move to overthrow hisauthority. The fear caused her to take drastic measures to keep this secretfrom reaching her husband. This lying nature spread throughout the Helmer’s householdand affected her relationship with Mrs. Linde.
Tragically,Nora’s deceptive life choices and her husband’s dominance negatively impacted herfriendship with Mrs. Linde. Torvald’s dominance influenced Nora as she useddeceitful tactics to achieve her goals. The audience can see in Act One thatNora seemed happy to see her friend; however, she lied to Mrs. Linde about theloan (Ibsen 866-68). Nora tried to control and overpower Mrs. Linde throughoutthe dialogue. Guo Yuehua explained, “Nora completely monopolizes the conversation.
She constantly tried to stay one step ahead of Mrs. Linde in a small powerstruggle over the issue as to whom has lived a harder life” (85). Yuehua stated that Nora tried to assert herdominance over Mrs. Linde throughout their conversation.
Nora had noalternative since Torvald constantly emphasized his male dominance over her. Furthermore,Nora’s fraudulent behavior with Mrs. Linde carried into her negativerelationship with her children. Anothermajor transformation that Nora’s character encountered was turning into aneglectful mother. As the story progressed, Ibsen showed the reader that Noragradually detached herself from her children. Nora deserted her children andrealized that she was Torvald’s “doll” (Ibsen 915-17).
Nora could not be themother she needed to be because she was trapped by Torvald’s domination. RolfFjelde declared, “Nora, the doll-child of her father, the doll-wife of herhusband, unthinkingly transmitting her doll-identity to her own daughter”(476). He was saying that Nora was changing her own child into a slave of maleauthority. During the resolution of “A Doll’s House,” Nora found that her lifehad been a lie, and she chose to desert her role as a mother.
Nora felt thatshe could no longer live under Torvald’s rule, which caused her to leave herhusband and children behind. In “ADoll’s House,” Torvald’s dominance created a spiral downfall in the harmony ofthe entire household. The play was set at a pivotal time in history when womenwere portrayed as less dominant than men. Henrik Ibsen showed the authoritariannature of Torvald through his relationship with Nora. The audience watched asNora developed the shameful characteristics of dishonesty, treachery, and carelessnesswhich followed her throughout the drama. Works CitedFarfan, Penny.
“Reading, writing, andauthority in Ibsen’s ‘women’s plays’.” ModernDrama, vol. 45, no.
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2017.Fjelde, Rolf. “Introduction to A Doll House.” Ibsen’s Selected Plays, edited by Brian Johnston, W.
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475-477.Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House.” Backpack Literature: An introduction toFiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, edited by X.
J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia,5th ed., Pearson, 2016, pp. 859-917.Yuehua, Guo.
“Gender Struggle overIdeological Power in Ibsen’s A Doll’sHouse.” Canadian Social Science,vol. 5, no. 1, Feb.
2009, pp. 79-87.