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Theme Of Abandonment In A Doll's House

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A Doll’s House, written by Henrik Ibsen, demonstrates the repressed life of women in the 19th century. Nora faced many challenges throughout the play that made her come to terms with the awful life she had been living ever since she was a child. In order to fix the problem, Nora decided to leave her family to start a new life instead of commiting suicide. The is a big step and possibly a huge mistake. She has to take into consideration the social impact her abandonment will have on her and her family. Death is one form of escape, abandonment is another.

Several things must be taken into account when dealing with the issue of abandonment. No matter who she was living with or married to, she had already gave birth to three children. “I realized that for 8 years I had been living here with a complete stranger, and had borne him 3 children.” (Ibsen 1388) A mother should never walk out on her children. She didn’t want to take them with her or ever see them again. Nora says, “I don’t want to see the children. I know they are in better hands than mine.” (Ibsen 1388) If a mother does not provide for her children, she has completely denied the role of motherhood. She and her children have grown up as play things, and it will continue for them if she is not there.

Nora was treated exactly like a doll by many people such as Torvald, Dr. Rank, Krogstad, and her children. Torvald liked to treat her as inferior and call her names like doll, spendthrift, skylark, squirrel, and featherhead. These are all derogatory names. Torvald always seemed to like to say “my little” before giving Nora a nickname. This just goes to show that he believed Nora belonged to him. He did not treat her as an equal at all and tried to make her feel useless. Nora was capable of living alone. She was not the best person to raise her kids because she also treated them like dolls. Nora has to leave her children so that they can also become real human beings just like her. The responsible thing to do would be to raise them herself, but at that point, Nora’s mind was in no shape to raise more than one person, herself. The nanny can help raise them, but she also helped raise Nora. There is a very good chance that the children might still be turned into dolls since the children would grow up like Nora did, without a mother. If she hadn’t left her family, she would not be contributing to their home at all. Even though everything she did was to help her family, mainly her husband’s health, her efforts would never be noticed or appreciated. She would never become her own person. By leaving, Nora is destroying the reputation of her husband and the family she once risked everything for. She would jeopardize Torvald’s new job. Nora just doesn’t care anymore. That society is the same one that treated her so terribly all those years. They were unkind to her, and they will be unkind to her family.

Although she was Torvald’s wife, she was treated as a child in her own house by her husband. She was forced to follow rules that were set by her husband such as not being able to eat macaroons. Torvald also expected Nora to agree with him on all significant issues. Her views must match his views. Torvald blamed her for ruining his life and his happiness. He said she was not fit to raise their children. Nora felt like an unworthy mother and a terrible wife although everything she did was for her family’s well being. Nora wanted to go out and be her own person. She has never been able to have her own experiences, to think her own thoughts, or to try to make something of her life. She knows nothing but what her and her father let her or what Torvald has given to her.

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There are a few times that Nora seems to be standing up for herself in her own way. Because Nora hides the macaroons, it can be inferred that she has gotten in trouble for having them before. Although she knows Torvald wouldn’t like it, she decides to buy some anyway. This appears to be the first hint of Nora making a stand for herself and doing something because she wants to. Later, Torvald says to Nora, “When Rank comes, just tell him where he can find me.” (Ibsen 1365) Instead, Nora disregards Torvald and tells Dr. Rank that he cannot go in yet. This is the second time Nora is seen as defying her husbands’ commands. For her whole life, Nora has been living up to the expectations of her father and her husband. She has been doing everything their way, but not anymore. She is becoming her own person whether it is the right thing to do or not.

To Nora, the right choice seemed to be to leave her family. She felt trapped in her own home. She was like a doll taken from the shelf to play with whenever Torvald felt like he wanted to pay attention to her. She lived only for him. He not only didn’t treat her as a wife, but he cannot even begin to understand everything she did for him. He leaves her with no interference or support. Her decision to leave was enforced by the realization that they have never truly loved each other. ‘Home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa’s doll-child.’ (Ibsen 1386) Her choice to leave is a new start and the chance for her to grow up and learn how to be a woman. This is something Nora absolutely needs before she could even think about being a part of an actual family again.

One can understand why Nora would want to leave her family even if her reasoning was not justified. She says, “You have only thought it pleasant to be in love with me.” (Ibsen 1385) She says this because she knows that Torvald was never really in love with her. She was his little doll; his play thing. He only wanted her when it was convenient for him. Being with someone that only loves occasionally can make anyone go insane. However, Nora left no room in the marriage for growth. She didn’t give Torvald the chance to prove himself. She left her children with Torvald, a man she called a stranger. Although one can see Nora’s pain in living with a man who didn’t love her, her leaving was still premature.

At the end of Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House, Nora decides to leave Torvald because she doesn’t know who he is anymore. She believes she is married to a stranger. This brings up the issue of whether Nora’s reason to leave her husband was justified or not. Nora had her reasons, but she also had responsibilities as a mother and a wife. Abandonment is the only way to leave the life of a doll and face life as an actual person.

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Theme Of Abandonment In A Doll’s House. (2022, February 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/theme-of-abandonment-in-a-dolls-house/
“Theme Of Abandonment In A Doll’s House.” Edubirdie, 18 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/theme-of-abandonment-in-a-dolls-house/
Theme Of Abandonment In A Doll’s House. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/theme-of-abandonment-in-a-dolls-house/> [Accessed 4 Feb. 2023].
Theme Of Abandonment In A Doll’s House [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 18 [cited 2023 Feb 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/theme-of-abandonment-in-a-dolls-house/
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