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Feminism in Ibsen's A Doll's House

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  1. Introduction
  2. Debate about A Doll's House
    1. Ibsen's support for feminism
    2. Critics' refusal to accept Ibsen as a feminist
    3. His concern with 'the woman question'
  3. Torvald's treatment of Nora
    1. Nora and the stereotype of women as helpless, weak, submissive, and stupid
    2. Nora's discovery of her duties
    3. Nora's potential to think and act on her own
  4. Ibsen and his play as excellent examples of early feminism
  5. Conclusion
  6. Works cited

According to Joan Templeton, author of Ibsen's Women, Ibsen's inspiration for Nora in A Doll's House came from a family friend, Laura Peterson Kieler, also a writer (135). Kieler, the "real-life Nora," likewise borrowed money for her husband, who was sick with tuberculosis, to relocate to Italy to recuperate (135). She could not afford to pay her creditors, however, and, pregnant, used forgery to repay the loan (135-136). On learning of her attempt to save his life:
Victor Kieler demanded a legal separation on the grounds that his wife was an unfit mother [(because of her crime)], gained custody of the children, including the newborn baby, and had his wife committed to an asylum, where she was placed in the insane ward. (136)

[...] Ibsen's A Doll's House condemns the average nineteenth century middle-class marriage ?(although importantly not [ . ] marriage per (Thomas 73) because of the unfair treatment of women, but manages to end with hope for the future of marriage. Ibsen recognizes that . ] marriage can only be happy when it rests on the basis of common ideals; that only when a man and a woman have the will and strength to give and to take with equal measure may they merge their lives [ . [...]

[...] Adams, another critic, also claims that feminism plays no part in A Doll's House (Templeton 112). "Fiddle-faddle," he says (qtd. in Templeton 112), the play . ] has nothing to do with the sexes [ . (qtd. in Rogers 114). Rather, "it deals with a personal conflict and proposes no generalizations about men and women" (paraphrased in Rogers 114). According to Eric Bentley, too, the play is not about women at all, but about . ] the tyranny of one human being over another; in this respect the play would be just as valid were Torvald the wife and Nora the husband" (Rogers 114). [...]

[...] In summary, A Doll's House demonstrates Ibsen's vision of "the transformation of social conditions" (qtd. in Ahmad and Gawel 173) through Nora's leaving and Torvald's hopeful realization at the end of the play. Ibsen's desire was that this "transformation" would nullify the traditional but oppressive marriage and allow all people, women included, to live and love to their full extent (Ahmad and Gawel 173). To be sure, both Ibsen and his play A Doll's House are excellent examples of early feminism. [...]

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