Doll's House an Analysis of Essay

Total Length: 1098 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 4

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The people elected Andrew Jackson President of the United States even though he had married a divorced woman. Nonetheless…men and women had specific marital responsibilities and lived with considerable restraint on their behavior, always subject to community approval. Men were assigned the world of business and family support. Women were custodians of the home.

In such a social situation, Ibsen, by having Nora walk out on her husband, is literally slapping social convention in its face. In fact, in such a social context, Nora is a walking contradiction: she breaks convention by forging her father's name and taking on work herself (without her husband knowing) to pay a debt that saved his life. Yet his ungratefulness scathes her so badly that she sees no point in acting like his "doll."

Still, it is not social custom that Nora goes out of her way to buck. All of her actions have been directed toward one noble aim -- the preservation of her husband's life and good name. Yet, when those actions fail and, in their failure, expose the fault that lies at the heart of Torvald's conception of marriage, Nora realizes that her marriage has been a sham. Torvald pleads desperately for her to stay -- but she refuses to be a doll: Nora is sticking up for what St. Paul would have admitted was her due: she wants to be loved -- not treated like a meaningless piece of property. Torvald realizes this all too late when Nora leaves him with her last words: that she could never live with a stranger, and that therefore the two of them could never be together unless there was a change -- unless their "life together would be a real wedlock.

It is this ideal of real wedlock that the medieval world, under the tutelage of the Pauline scriptures, understood so well -- and it is this ideal that the modern world, in its attempt to throw off the shackles of the past, rejected to its own apparent detriment. It is this ideal that Nora laments is lacking in her own marriage -- and it is this ideal that is absent in the letter of Marcus to his Wife in 1844. Marcus sees his wife the same way Torvald sees his -- as property, or an employer, or a child, to be governed with rules (like a tyrant) and without charity or love. The opening line of Marcus' letter says all that needs to be said, "You have sinned greatly…" No marriage could ever stand on such a line: it is Pharisaical.

In conclusion, Ibsen's A Doll's House displays the emptiness of the 19th century marriage, devoid of the charity recommended so strongly by St. Paul. "New historicism" and "cultural criticism" reveal that the emptiness stems not from our own projections necessarily, but from the times and events surrounding Ibsen's own day and age, and the centuries of revolution that followed the end of the medieval world's Christian philosophy.

Works Cited

Engel, Margorie. "The History of Divorce." Flying Solo. Web. 8 Aug 2011.

Ibsen, Henrik. "A Doll's House." Project Gutenberg. Web. 8 Aug 2011.

Johnson, Paul. Intellectuals. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2007.

New Testament. New International Version, 1984. Biblos. Web. 8 Aug….....

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