Gender Dynamics in the play A Doll House
Gender Dynamics in the Play A Doll House
The title of this play already offers a clue to its theme. The term doll has a deeper meaning than the doll used by children to play. This term is tied to Nora who is cuddled, pampered and patronized just as a kid would to a doll that has no say. The play portrays and distinguishes things that do matter and distinguishes them from superficial things. The play downplays the significance of appearances and perceptions to people. It is a play that shows things are not always as rosy as they are and one has to dig deep to get the real picture of things.
From this play there are multiple themes one can decipher. The sacrificial role of women comes in first. Nora in act three knows this and tells Torvald that even though men refuse to sacrifice their integrity, “hundreds of thousands of women have.” Mrs.Linde had abandoned Krogstad whom she truly loved to take care of her mother and two brothers. Krogstad was not well off and she needed a richer man to be able to care for them. The nanny had to work for Nora and abandon her child to support herself. She tells Nora that “she was a poor girl who’d been led astray” and was lucky to have found the job. Nora has had to leave like a doll as society dictates so. Torvald is supposed to be the dominant partner and Nora is content with that position though that is not who she is. Nora must hide the loan she took up for him to go to Italy because Torvald would not understand accept she would save his life. She has to lie that the source of the money is from the father. She further risks her stand by breaking the law when she forged her husband’s signature that was a requirement for a loan. Nora also chooses to leave her children as she leaves as this is what would be best for her.
There is also a theme of self-righteousness that the men bring out very well. Torvald is of the idea that one’s parents always dictate the moral character. He tells Nora “nearly all young criminals had lying -mothers.” He also refuses Nora to interact with the children after realizing what she had done. Dr. Rank also implies that he had contracted a venereal disease because of his father’s immorality that he had inherited.
Appearances also seem unreliable. At the beginning, Nora occurs to us a woman to be toyed with by the husband but by the time the play is over that perception is eroded. Krogstad also assumes almost the part of a villain but his character is revealed when he expresses sympathy for Nora. He also chose to come clean and end the blackmail. Torvalds’s is also seen as a coward contrary to the manliness he seems to portray when the threat of a scandal gets him acting up.
Gender dynamics is how people of various gender combinations interact with each other. From the play women appear to have a concrete relationship where they share secrets and look out for each other. Mrs. Linde was the first to learn of Nora’s loan a secret she had kept to herself. Nora went ahead and showed Mrs. Linde the plans of how she was planning to settle the loan. Mrs. Linde on her part eliminated the agony of blackmail to Nora by Krogstad. She warm her way back into his heart and played part in persuading him to drop the demands he was making. In as much as the truth finally came out, she did her part as a friend by persuading Krogstad and applied her wisdom in helping lift the lid on the whole matter. Nora trusts the nanny so much that she was willing to leave her children alone with her. The nanny on her part believed Nora had saved her life and was indebted to her by offering her the job. Mrs. Linde in sharing the hardships of her life with Norah had a belief that Norah would help her get a job.
The men in this play enjoyed competing against each other in a show of who held the power. Torvald who feels disrespected by Krogstad wants to fire him owing to his poor reputation. In act one Dr. Rank when coming out of Torvald refers to Krogstad as “morally sick”. That is the basis of the relationship the men are in. Irrespective of Nora’s intervention to spare Krogstad from being fired, Torvald would have none of it and went ahead and gave him the dismissal letter. This is a show of exercising authority. Dr. Rank knowing very well that Nora was Torvalds’s wife in act to goes ahead and declares her love for her. This is a sign of disrespect to Torvald. Krogstad does return the favor of showing who has the power when he confronts Torvald with risk of a scandal from the forged contract he held.
Torvald has little regard for his wife as a person and his actions in the treatment depict so. He is considerate on Mrs. Linde and gives her a job. Torvald on the other hand listens to Mrs. Linde and even drops the blackmail after she persuades him. He is also considerate of Nora and shows sympathy.
Spark Notes Editors. “Spark Note on A Doll’s House.” SparkNotes.com. Spark Notes LLC. 2002. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.
Ibsen’s Henrik. A Doll’s House. New York: Sheba Blake, 2013.Print.
“Gender Dynamics” Huffington Post, 8 July 2015. Web. 3 Dec 2015.