I’ve heard this is a feminist play (although Henrik Ibsen denied that it has been written with any such purpose), and naturally, I had to read it.
With that in mind, as I was reading the piece I kept looking out for feminist ideas here and there… And I didn’t seem to find that many. I started wondering if the world saw more in this play than I did.
And then I finished it. And then I saw everything in a new light. My mistake was to read this as a “feminist play”, and the playwright is right — it isn’t such by definition. After finishing the work, and being satisfied with the feminist elements at the end of it, I was able to appreciate the beginning much more.
At first Nora Helmer represented everything I despise in women. Which is why her character growth was so extreme and effectively plotted! By the end of the play I was cheering for Nora. Good for her! Practically everything she was saying to her husband at the end I had to note down as a quote.
The very last exchange of words in the play – the grand finale, if you will, was puzzling and powerful. Nora says she is finally certain of the path she must pursue, for once for herself. And Torvald, her husband, immediately brings up the shame and blame of leaving husband and children. And this is how the world functions! Ibsen is brilliant.
As soon as a woman finds strength to speak out for herself, she is pushed back down by incessant blame from the world, which makes her retreat back into the cage that she has just escaped. It is safer that way. The stigma that lies on women who want to live for themselves is incredible! How often do we criticize mothers who leave families (or never start any)? Are we not much more accepting of men who leave their wives and children? Men who, if you ask me, are already more free than women from restraints of family life?
(Now, of course it would be perfect to have lovely nuclear families where nobody leaves, but reality is different. And I am not defending abandonment of children… I am just against the double standard involved in it.)
Now I’m on a rant, but yes, this is a great play!