Torvald Helmer, a husband to Nora, takes a high ranking position in their marriage. He views himself as the head of the family who has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that everything in the house is in order. In this circumstances, women lack authority and freedom to make their own decisions. For instance, Torvald views Nora as a young girl and plaything that needs to control and supervision. More so, Torvald sees women in marriage as partners who need to sacrifice a lot in their marriage. For example, When Torvald was sick, Nora was forced to borrow a loan from Krogstad for purposes of paying the medical expenses, and this is revealed during a conversation between Nora and Krogstad (Ibsen, p.37). The credit given to Nora was undisclosed debt meant for good. From this sacrificial effort, it shows how women struggle in their marriages to exemplify the character of a good mother and a good wife.
Nora lived a struggling life with Torvald. For example, she did everything that her husband demanded him to do. Torvald lived in a society that subdues the role of women; therefore, he continued with the culture of overlooking women even in his marriage with Nora treating her like a doll. However, Nora was unease with her husband's and patriarchal view of female gender; she fought against the injustices to achieve equal rights and freedom like male gender. She was forced to make the ultimate decision of leaving her family after discovering her long-term unsatisfied desires (Ibsen, p.79). Nora vowed to look after self rather than a stranger who she was married to for eight years now. The decision came as a self-discovery to find peace instead of waiting to be given orders by her husband within a society which continues to subdue Women rights and their significant role in society. Nora's bold decision also indicates the spirit of self-identity and self-determination to pursue what is best for self.
Torvald learned about the most significant secret debt about Nora. He gets angry changing his perception to Nora considering her as a liar. Due to a risk of blackmail, Nora had a forged signature that her husband came to realize later. Although Torvald comes to terms with Nora, she had made the final decision to walk out of her marriage because she had no position as a good wife and a mother. Her marriage is filled with negativity from the husband and the father. Torvald, besides blaming Nora, at the beginning of the play, he shows sexual advance to Nora, but when Nora refuses to fall into the act, Torvald term it as a game (Ibsen, p.82). From this view, it is true that Torvald views her wife Nora as a sexual toy. In a broader context, Torvald sees women as sexual toys that men can use to get pleasure, a widespread perception of patriarchal society. Additionally, Torvald feels Nora must have sex with him, belittling women to an object of pleasure.
Torvald actions towards Nora to fulfill his desires is a great indication that men needs are above women needs. Torvald lacks a sense of humanity and respect for women rights. Women just like men have a right to consent, but in this case, they are forced to confine to social norms that favor men. Besides forceful sexual advances, Torvald fails on many occasions to refer to his wife by her name but instead he uses pet titles. For example, when Nora asks Torvald for money, Torvald replies that it is expensive to maintain a small featherbrain (Ibsen, p.5). Featherhead is an abusive language against women because it refers to a silly person. Torvald therefore degrades and devalues female identity. In fact, he continually assumes power in her marriage subjects Nora to a position of a subordinate and inequity. The extreme power that Torvald has also degraded the women's role in society. Torvald refuses to discuss marriage issues with Nora because he feels Nora has no obligation to question his actions.
Torvald refuses to reinstate Krogstad because he thinks he will be ashamed at the workplace just because he acted on a woman's plea (Ibsen, 49). Torvald values social status more than the concerns of her wife. He also values his decisions as final and irreversible. Thus, his perception characterizes women as irrational decision makers and inferior. Torvald dismissed the decisions and suggestions by Nora all because of being a female. Since Torvald feels his reputation is more significant than the feelings and emotions of his wife, he decides to maintain social status defines by patriarchal society. Men are honored for making a standalone decision than making decisions involving women. The perception of Torvald shows how women feel empty and isolated in a society that does not value their choices and their identity.
Torvald portrays a character of defiance and disrespect to Nora and female gender in general. Torvald through his character, Ibsen was able to demonstrate the struggle of women in patriarchal society and how they are fighting for their gender liberation. Nora feels inferior, disrespected and dishonored before her father and husband. She makes terrible decisions to save her husband's life and family. The progressive lack of respect forces her to make the ultimate resolution of leaving her marriage and fight for self-being. Torvald continuously subdued Nora through belittlement and limited decision making. Thus, the view of Torvald positions women as nonequals to men and conformers to strict discriminatory social norms, beliefs, and values.
Ibsen, Henrik. A doll's house. A&C Black, 2008.
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