In has never really thought for herself, never

In the play, “A Doll’s House”, by Henrik
Ibsen, we meet Nora. A woman who has never really thought for herself, never
been able to be more than what the men in her life see her as. She seems
content, in a childlike kind of way. When we consider the fact that her life is
not so far-fetched as the lives of women a hundred years ago, it is kind of
amazing. The strides that have been made for equality between the sexes are far
and wide compared to Nora’s timeline.

Helmer was more like a parent or a teacher
than a husband. For example, in the beginning of the play, he calls Nora a
plethora of pet names. Little lark, little squirrel, little sky lark. As it
progresses, he realizes she has spent money and proceeds to teach his “little
feather head”, the importance of living without debt. Nora, of course, does not
understand but Helmer knows best. She concedes with an “as you please.” (Ibsen,
2008 P. 3). Unlike Nora, women today actually do understand the value of money.
Women hold fulltime jobs alongside their male counterparts, some being the
bread-winners of the marriage. They are also capable of taking care of a family
on their own should the need arise, and she can also be a partner for her
husband without being undervalued.

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            When
we meet Mrs. Linde, Nora continues to be clueless to the real world. She talks
briefly of her dear friend’s suffering. The fact that she jumps from, “I
mustn’t be selfish today” (Ibsen, 2008 p. 7), when discussing her friend’s
partnerships, to her enthusiastic, “do you know we have just had a great piece
of good luck?” (Ibsen, 2008 p. 7) in the next breath is another example of her
immaturity. Even though Nora’s friend seems to be much, much older, widowed and
looking for work, Nora cannot help the thrill of her husband’s upcoming
position and how this benefits her. She has never known real struggle because
she has been sheltered from it by the men in her life. I am sure there are
women in this country today who have never known true hardship, but I would
like to think everyone, man or woman, could empathize with the plight of
another person without selfishly thinking of only themselves. Mrs. Linde is a
widowed woman, with no children and only herself to rely on however, she
married her late husband, not because she loved him, but for the help he could
provide for her mother and siblings. She sees the youth inside of Nora and she
even tells her that she is a child. Nora, not to be out done, must brag on her
only one and real accomplishment without the aid of her husband. Mrs. Linde is
very proud of the fact that she stayed by her mother she says, “I was
privileged to make the end of my mother’s life almost free from care” (Ibsen,
2008 p. 10). This said a lot about Mrs. Linde. It was a selfless act by a woman
who was strong enough to do what had to be done. Today women show strength in
many ways. Women fought for and achieved the right to vote, have fought off
suppression, they can hold public offices, enter legal contracts, and have
equal pay.

We later learn that Nora has in fact decided
on her own, behind her husband’s back no less and obtains a loan from a bank
officer using a forged signature of her late father. She is of the mind that
the law will not apply to her, because she done it out of love. When threatened
with legal action, she finally realizes the error she has made. She lives in
utter fear that her husband will find out and goes to great lengths to hide
this from him. When Krogstad threatens to reveal the truth if she does not help
him, Nora goes to Helmer and attempts to get him to let Krogstad keep his
position at the bank. Helmer gives Nora a lesson on character and where bad
character comes from stating “it seems most commonly to be the mother’s
influence” (Ibsen, 2008 p. 27), but concedes a bad father would produce the
same result. The key word is “most commonly” when referring to women so now we
see that women are more likely the cause of their children not following the
straight and narrow. I wonder how many of these women he is referring to were
single mothers. “The number of single mother’s living with children younger
than eighteen in 2015 is 9.9 million” (Census.gov). Many of these mothers are
living below the poverty level. I wonder if the absence of a father could
influence the character of the child. “Today 71% of high school drop outs are
fatherless and 85% of delinquency and youth crimes are committed by fatherless
children” (psychology today).

In the end, we see that Mrs. Linde and
Krogstad had been in a relationship prior to her first marriage and Mrs. Linde
offers herself back to Krogstad. She tells him “I want to be a mother to
someone, and your children need a mother, we two need each other” (Ibsen, 2008
p. 50). This is a decision she makes on her own and while it will help Nora, it
will more importantly help her. Helmer learns the truth and confronts Nora,
this is her wake-up call and she realizes all he really cared about was his
self instead of helping her, he is cold and talks down to her. Nora gains her courage
in this moment and asks him, “does it not occur to you that this is the first
time we two, have had a serious conversation” (Ibsen, 2008 p. 59)? She realizes
the way her father and husband has sheltered was a detriment and she boldly express
herself. She points out that hundreds of thousands of women have sacrificed
their honor for their husbands, even though Helmer tells her, “no man would
sacrifice his honor for the one he loves” (Ibsen, 2008 p. 63). Nora leaves
taking only her belongings and Helmer is in shock.  

Today, gender has expanded in so many
different directions, but one thing is for sure, the right to be an equal has
been a long and hard-fought battle. Equality is a precious thing and the world
needs to continue to stride forward so that all voices are heard.