Discuss the Representation of Women in a Doll's House

‘A woman cannot be herself in modern society’ (Ibsen’s preliminary notes for A Dolls House.) Discuss the representation of the women in A Dolls House in the light of this statement.

    In discussing whether or not a woman can be herself in modern society, we must first address the historical context in which Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House; which was in the late nineteenth century. In this period, it was traditional for a woman of the bourgeois society to take on the role of a house wife and mother, and be entirely dependent upon their husbands’ for any financial support they required. Ibsen has played on this traditionalist view and created realism in what can only be described as a feminist play. In this period it was believed that men were superior to women, Ibsen has played on this idea by portraying the character Nora as a strong-willed free thinking woman, who by the final scene in the play has managed to change the roles between herself and her husband, Torvald. David Thomas believes that:
          “Once married, the women find they have clearly defined an essentially subordinate role in relation to men, whose property they legally and socially became.”     (David Thomas, 1990 p.68)
    Men in the late nineteenth century where thought of as insensitive to a females needs and emotions, Ibsen successfully showed this in his play through the characters Torvald and Krogstad, whilst making Dr. Ranke the sympathetic male character.
Our first impression of Nora is that she is child-like in many ways, for example, eating the macaroons when Torvald tells her not to, but as the play progresses so does our view of Nora. We learn that she is far from the child-like girl who plays on her husband’s expectations of her as a wife and as a mother, and that she is infact an intellectual thinker and more independent than she herself realises, and that she only pretends to be the ‘doll wife’ that her husband wishes her to be, in order to keep the peace in the family home,...