A Doll's House

The Morality of Relationships in 'A Doll's House' 11th Grade

In his play ‘A Doll’s House’ Henrik Ibsen provides the audience with an insight into life in 19th Century Norway and the injustices that existed in society at the time. Throughout the narrative Ibsen uses the Nora and Torvald’s relationship as a vehicle through which he explores the constitution of marriage and the morality of this kind of relationship, particularly the rigid gender roles that were prominent within the society.

In the play, a woman is expected to accept her societal role, acquiescing to her husband in all things, by subtly highlighting the inequality of this, Ibsen explores the morality of their relationship. One of the first thing Torvald says to address his wife is “You mustn’t disturb me!” Here, the imperative creates a very forceful tone, establishing unequal power dynamics within the relationship, indicative of the inequalities that existed between men and women in the mid-19th Century. Men adopted the dominant role that came so naturally to them in such a phallocentric culture, in which women were denied the same rights as men. Critic Brian Downs states “When Henrik Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House, the institution of marriage was sacrosanct”, and this notion emphasised by how naturally Nora and Torvald embrace...

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