A Doll's House

Nora: Subservient and Independent 11th Grade

The opening of the play ‘A Doll’s House’ by Henrik Ibsen provides the audience with an introduction to the protagonist Nora and an insight into the nature of her marriage with Torvald. Even from this early point in the play Ibsen explores the constitution of marriage in 19th Century Norway, particularly the rigid gender roles that this created within the society. To an extent, Nora conforms to the role of the typical subservient wife, but the audience also encounters elements of independence in her character that have the potential to prevail later on in the play.

In the opening of the play, there is a sense, albeit subtle, of entrapment whereby Nora is trapped in her marriage and in her home, and indeed subservient to their husbands. The stage directions determining Nora’s actions, such as “jumps up and claps her hands” or “tosses her head”, are slightly erratic and establish at atmosphere of restlessness, subsequent to Nora being housebound and repressed. Ibsen purposely leads the audience to believe that Nora, to an extent, is actually unaware of her own repression, since she never actually says she feels as such (it is only implied through her movements), and is therefore instructively subservient to Torvald; in no way does...

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