Writing An Essay On A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen

In November 2012, it was headlined online and in most media all over the world that a Chinese man sued his wife for being ugly after giving birth to an ugly baby – apparently, the woman had plastic surgery.

The man and the woman in the news can be closely likened to the main characters of Henrik Ibsen's three-act play, A Doll House, Torvald and Nora Helmer. Set in the 19th century, the play provides glimpse of gender roles in the society which still manifest in today’s setting.

In the play, Nora is a typical Stepford wife, or so she seemed. She stays at home to take care of their children, keeps herself pleasing in the eyes of her husband by buying what appeared to be fancy clothes, and ‘submits’ herself to her husband. But Nora is not that typical at all. She secretly goes against her husband’s will. Most importantly, she has a secret about a bold and daring sacrifice she had to do for her husband. When Torvald found out about it though, Nora also found out how little her man saw of her, so she left him.

Torvald Helmer on the other hand, was an epitome of shallowness. Embracing the idea that a woman is completely under a man’s guidance and protection, his shallowness was evident when he worried about his reputation in the society first instead of his wife. Like the Chinese man in the news, he thought of his wife as a trophy material, but when confronted of the truth and the possible consequences of his wife’s actions, he became a coward.

The society has a lot of Torvalds, but it also has a lot of Nora’s. If women only realize their worth, they can muster all their strength to make themselves heard. The Chinese woman in the news may not have the same ending as Nora’s story (her husband ironically won the case), but both of them got the freedom – from their husbands’ shallowness – they both deserve.