A Doll's House

A Doll’s House and the Escape From Ideological Suffocation

Marxist critic Louis Althusser’s fame rests substantially on the basis of his critical theories surrounding his proposition that human beings are interpellated by society to become complicit in propagating the prevailing ideology even when that ideology does not serve their interests. Interpellation basically means turning the individual into a subject that in turn serves to further reproduce the ideology (Althusser 295-301). The title of Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll House lends credence to the idea that Nora has been interpellated to become an unthinking, unquestioning, well-oiled cog keeping the machinery of bourgeois, middle class ideology humming along. A Doll’s House is the apparently tragic, but ultimately uplifting story of the emancipation of an individual who finally rejects an ideology that manipulates conformity by placing too high a value on money, reputation and gender inequality.

The opening line of A Doll’s House serves as a perfect metaphor for the Louis Althusser’s conception of the theory of societal interpellation of people into subjects that serve a bourgeois economy: “Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed” (I). A tree is a natural...

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