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Victorian Women and A Doll's House

            The ideal Victorian woman is represented as someone who is devoted to taking care of her family and is home-loving. She is kind, extremely sympathetic and will always obey her husband. Henrik Ibsen, a strong feminist supporter and well known author of several feminist stories, created the play "A Doll's House" to represent women in the Victorian Era. In this play, Nora Helmer plays the role of the Victorian woman who Ibsen utilizes to represent the gender inequality at that time. Through Nora's character, Ibsen represents the exploitation of women and demands equal rights for them by using symbolic language presented in the play. Prior to analyzing Nora's character in "A Doll's House," understanding the difference in gender roles during the Victorian Era is crucial. Said by Queen Victoria herself, "God created men and women different – then let them remain each in their own position." (Queen Victoria, Letter 29). Women during this era were considered the "weaker" sex in both physical and intellectual terms. A woman's entire life was controlled by the male gender whether it be father, husband or even son. Males in this era were characterized as "active, progressive, and defensive" (V&A Museum). Ibsen's play attempts to display the gender inequalities of The Victorian Era through the martial relationship between Nora and her husband, Torvald.
             The main character, Nora, strives to be the perfect wife who her husband, Torvald, wants her to be. As the play progresses, Nora finds herself trapped in the "doll house" of her own home created by Torvald. Nora is portrayed as a doll that is subject to follow Torvald's demands. Ibsen shows the exploitation of woman through the interactions of Nora and Torvald. Although their relation appears to be settled on the outside, Nora is treated like a child rather than a spouse. Nora is a submissive wife and Torvald expects this from her as this was the traditional norms of the Victorian Era.

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