A Doll's House Act 1 Response

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Based on your understanding of this act, how does Ibsen characterize the institution of marriage in the 19th century? Ibsen characterizes the institution of marriage in the 19th century in A Doll’s House as an extremely traditional one. The husband assumes the dominant role in the household: he makes all the decisions and he is in control of the money. The wife, on the other hand, is dominated by the male and follows the husband’s decisions even in domestic spheres. Although not shown explicitly in Act 1 of the play, Ibsen seems to be somewhat critical of the institution of marriage in the 19th century by showing how Torvald, the husband, patronizes Nora, the wife. To Torvald, it may be an expression of love, but he is treating Nora as a child to be coddled. Also, Krogstad persuades Nora to help him in order to keep his job, which shows how easily women were subject to manipulation by the male. Therefore, Ibsen characterizes the institution of marriage in the 19th century as extremely traditional and very oppressive to women. Act I indeed shows Nora as a doll-like character: she is coddled, pampered, and patronized. But do you see anything “under the surface” that would lead you to believe that she may later effect transformation? There are several parts in which we see the possibility of Nora’s transformation. For example, Nora says “[quickly]. You might give me money, Torvald. Only just what you think you can spare; then I can buy myself something with it later” (7). From this, we can see that she is hiding her real purpose of wanting money from her husband, which is not acceptable in the social norms. Also, she doesn’t tell Torvald the full story of what she talked about with Krogstad; Nora deceives her husband once more. The fact that Nora, who is constantly coddled and pampered, is willing to lie to her husband regarding money, is a clear indication
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