Women Roles in Today’s Society
“The traditional roles of women in society today have improved drastically. Women of the modern age are able to make their own decisions, act and do as they please, and have the marvelous opportunity of getting an education the same as men do. Although the way that women are currently viewed in society is a great deal, more equal than in the past, there will always be a tiny view in the back of our minds, whether we are aware of it or not, that classifies women as inferior to men, as well as authoritative figures in society. These privileges that come so effortlessly in the lives of most modern women today were not always available for them. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen tells the struggles of women in the late nineteenth century, when women’s roles and rights are so limited that they are expected to sacrifice their lives for their families and social status. Even though A Doll’s House was written more than a hundred years ago, the problems regarding to gender inequality and women’s limited rights are still relevant today in Muslim countries. The movie Separation by Asghar Farhadi is an obvious example that women in Muslim countries still live under the dictatorship of their husbands and have few inconsiderable rights.
In the play, “A Doll’s House,” author Henrik Ibsen draws a detailed picture of marriage in the nineteenth century by representing realistic portrayals of unique characters, particularly Nora and Torvald. He uses this couple’s life as an example of a typical marriage at that time. In such a patriarchal society, wives were considered as a property of men and their mutual understanding was very low. Therefore the nature of patriarchy creates gender inequality which in the end causes Nora to leave her family and end their marriage. When Ibsen describes Torvald’s personality he emphasizes the position of men and women in the nineteenth century. Torvald considered Nora as an unequal company, which was normal in a patriarchal society. In the conversations between Torvald and Nora, the way he speaks to his wife tells the readers that he has no respect for her. He constantly uses nicknames when talking to his wife such as, “my little singing bird,” “my little skylark,” and “my pretty little pet. ” He seems to view her as a child because he usually includes the word, “little,” every time he talks to her. Torvald likes to take complete control over his wife, direct and judge her. For example, when Torvald tells Nora about the party and demands her to dance there that night, he says “Now you must go and play through tarantella and practice with your tambourine.”(Ibsen 37). He truly perceives her as a child whom he can teach. Torvald believes that because he is educated, he holds the power in the marriage, he tells Nora, “No, no; only lean on me; I will advise and direct you. I should not be a man If this womanly helplessness did not just give you a double attractiveness in my eyes.”(Ibsen 64). Slowly he becomes so selfish as he only knows how to put his opinion on Nora, but not to share her opinion.
How it works
Nora has been living double life dealing with the inequality of gender. With her friend Mrs. Linde she acts like, she is completely happy with her “doll-existence.” She does not have problems being called a pet by her husband and even responds lovingly to him. Her actions make her look like a little child who is hiding her fault because she is afraid of punishment. Their marriage looks like the relationship between a father and his child or boss and his employee. Nora maintains her marriage by staying obedient to Torvald. She wants to flatter him when they’re having conversations. Instead of communicating as equals, as husband and wife should, Nora appears to accept her status as inferior in their relationship. In the conversation with Mrs. Linde Nora reveals that she is not just a spoiled and childish wife as most people might have thought. Ibsen represents Nora’s positive personal qualities, such as intelligence and ability to deal with problems to protect her marriage. In fact years ago when Torvald became ill, and he couldn’t take care of his family and even himself, Nora falsified a signature of her father to receive a loan, to save Torvald’s life. This act tells a lot about Nora that she has the courage and will to save her husband and protect her family. What Nora has done is surprising for the reader and it changes first impressions about her. Her bravery and understanding of business about her debt prove that she has potentials outside of being just a wife. Ibsen wants to show the fact that, women are able to stand on their feet, take care of themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the traditional role of women in marriage and the influence of society affected her mind and confidence. She won’t risk progress and share her opinions. Her understanding of marriage in the nineteenth century explains why she lied to Torvald and decided to solve a problem in secret. Many people think that she was afraid of the punishment from her husband, but she just procrastinates time because she doesn’t want to see Torvald’s real self.
Nora’s story is a typical example of the common women’s lives in the nineteenth century. When she was at home with his father, he told her his opinions about life, and she assumed the same opinions. Whenever she disagreed with him, she hid that fact because her father would not have liked it. After getting married, she was transferred from her father to her husband. Like many women of her era, Nora is trained to become a doll that deeply believed in the wrong idea of women’s status in the community. Thus, in order to protect her position, she had to decide to live with this “childish behavior. In this case, Nora seems to be so flexible that she can fit her masked personality into a specific environment. In general, if people are able to adapt to society, then they tend to have a happy and comfortable life. However, the question is why she does not achieve a happy marriage. The answer might be that Nora has not had an opportunity to think differently from what her father, her husband, and society at that time had told her. She used to talk to Mrs. Linde in Act 1, “Free. To be free, absolutely free. To spend time playing with the children. To have a clean, beautiful house, the way Torvald likes it” (Ibsen 13). This quote shows Nora’s poor definition of freedom. Although Nora is a woman of great potential, traditional thought affects her deeply. This idea will of freedom offers her time to be a mother and traditional wife who takes care of a beautiful house, as her husband likes. Based on this knowledge, she has not done anything for herself. Nonetheless, this is not true freedom, which can offer women a chance to achieve real happiness. The true freedom they need is independence from societal pressures. The tragedy is that society did not give them an opportunity to develop their abilities to explore their personalities, goals, or benefits. This freedom also allows them to have an equal role in their family.
While some audiences might blame either Nora or Torvald for their unsuccessful marriage, others might consider their sad ending to be the result of the inequality of gender roles caused by the nature of traditional marriage in older times. On the one hand, the audience might obviously see the mistakes made by both Nora and Torvald since they do not know how to share their lives or try to understand each other. However, if the reader will think deeper to look for the root of their problem, they might be aware that they might be victims of the failed social customs. Based on the principle that they have been educated to achieve a happy marriage, both Nora and Torvald might have done their task well. Unfortunately, while they are trying to figure out their own way to fit into the society’s marriage rule, they begin to live with “masked personalities”; as a result, they become separated from each other. Thus, the major reason for this failed marriage, Ibsen suggests, is the inequality of the rights of men and women in older times. This is a reason why the author provides a great debatable ending, which is that Nora decides to leave her children and her husband to, “discover herself. ” Some people might think that Nora acted as a “selfish woman. ” However, she might have a sense that with her limited rights and knowledge, she might not able to raise her children well; her children might copy their mother’s restricted lifestyle. Therefore, Nora’s choice should be appreciated because I think her action opened a new door to freedom for women in her time and in the future.”