“A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen Play Review

            A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen is the classical play that is traditionally viewed as the early feminist play that has revealed the wide gap between the position of men and women in society and encouraged the public to reevaluate the position of women in society. However, the feminist aspect of the play being important is one of many noteworthy aspects of the play, while the language and the transformation of the language of the main character of the play Nora reveals her deep transformation. As Nora holds the traditionally inferior position in society at the beginning of the play so is her language focused on men that accompany and lead her, while by the end of the play she rejects men and puts herself on the first place that can be clearly traced through her language where “I” becomes dominating, but the change also involves her non-verbal language, which becomes more daring and challenging as she starts treat men as equal and challenge them all the time by the end of the play.  

            The plot and the conflict of the story focus on the transformation of the main character, Nora, from the suppressed woman, who is totally dependent initially on her father and later on her husband, into the free woman, who is ready to stand for herself and her own interests rather than obey to social norms and standards imposed on her by the male-dominated society. The conflict of the play is two-fold. On the one hand, there is the conflict between Nora and society, since Nora challenges social norms as she wants to break free of family bounds and abandon her husband and children to be finally free. The conflict between her natural egoism and strife for personal happiness and self-realization, on the one hand, and the patriarchal society, who limits her social role and the entire life to her household and children under the full obedience to and total dependence on her husband. Another conflict occurs within Nora’s mind and soul. Throughout the play Nora undergoes the profound transformation as her inner conflict brings her to the realization of her own self and the rise of her human dignity.

            Nora is the main character of the play, who personifies and symbolizes the rise of feminism. She is the strong woman, who has proved to be capable to survive the difficult time and, what was more important to her, she has learned to cope with her problems without the assistance of men. She saved the life of her husband, when there was no man to give money or sign the bill. She was bold enough to undertake the step the woman was not even expected to undertake. This first initiative and boldness opened the new world for her and revealed her true position, which became unbearable for the main character and resulted in her revolt against existing social norm. This is why she is a rebellious character, who breaks social norms and challenges stereotypes and biases dominating in society. Her acting is particularly important in this regard because through her performance on the stage Nora shows her inner struggle as well as her boldness to change the world around her and herself above all. This is why she ultimately abandons her family for the sake of her own freedom and herself.

            The readiness of Nora to struggle and her profound transformations may be traced through her language. At first, she expresses no opinions but those of her husband. Whatever she says focuses on her husband and children and she seems to be unable to express any personal opinion at all. Ironically, she believes she is free: “Free. To be absolutely free. To spend time playing with the children. To have a clean, beautiful house, the way Torvald likes it” (Ibsen, Act 1). However, by the end of the play, she becomes aware of her real position and her language becomes very different and focused on herself: “I have another duty equally sacred…My duty to myself.” (Ibsen,  Act III). She becomes not only very opinionated but she becomes very confident in herself. She puts her own needs and interests above all, but to meet her needs and interests she has to break up with her family and society because they will never accept her behavior. Even her language is unacceptable because she talks about the liberation of woman, while the role of woman in the society, where she lives, is to be a good mother and wife.

            However, it is not only in her words that the change occurs but also through her non-verbal language too. At the beginning of the play, Nora uses defensive and submissive gestures and postures. As she becomes aware of her needs and becomes more and more independent, she starts acting differently. Her non-verbal language is not as submissive as it used to be. For example, she looks directly into her husband’s eyes and is not even going to turn away her eyes as a sign of submission. On the contrary, she seems to be trying to kill her husband with her gaze, if necessary.

            Thus, the play reveals the profound transformation of the main character that manifests not only through the change of the position of the main character in the play, but also through the use of verbal and non-verbal language. The main character shifts from obedience and weakness at the beginning of the play to rebellion and strength by the end of the play.

Works Cited:

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. New York: Penguin Classics, 2012.

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"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: April 1, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: April 1, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: April 1, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: April 1, 2020]