English

The Unequal Distribution of Power within Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House"

Sarah Jacobs

Description/Abstract

“A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen largely centers around the justification of married women being denied rights simply because they are married. Specifically, marriage for main character Nora has meant that her husband Torvald is allowed to play with her like a doll whenever he pleases and discard her when he’s done. Although marriage can sometimes mean new opportunities for women, it usually serves as transportation from one cage to another. Nora was carted off from one man’s house to another (from her father’s to Torvald’s) while never experiencing true freedom or control over her own life.

Philosopher Michel Foucault writes that “To say that sex is not repressed, or rather that the relationship between sex and power is not characterized by repression, is to risk falling into a sterile paradox”. With this philosophy in mind it’s easier to understand the ways in which power dictates relationships since sex plays a vital role in marriage. The marriage between Nora and Torvald largely revolves around the power dynamic of Torvald making every decision and Nora being repressed by his control. Being Torvald’s wife means Nora is trapped beneath his dominant nature at all times. In this essay I will argue that the constant unequal distribution of power within Nora and Torvald’s marriage shows how the bonds of marriage are used to showcase a socially acceptable way to exert power over someone else’s body.

 
Mar 13th, 1:00 PM Mar 13th, 2:00 PM

The Unequal Distribution of Power within Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House"

Nesbitt 1211

“A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen largely centers around the justification of married women being denied rights simply because they are married. Specifically, marriage for main character Nora has meant that her husband Torvald is allowed to play with her like a doll whenever he pleases and discard her when he’s done. Although marriage can sometimes mean new opportunities for women, it usually serves as transportation from one cage to another. Nora was carted off from one man’s house to another (from her father’s to Torvald’s) while never experiencing true freedom or control over her own life.

Philosopher Michel Foucault writes that “To say that sex is not repressed, or rather that the relationship between sex and power is not characterized by repression, is to risk falling into a sterile paradox”. With this philosophy in mind it’s easier to understand the ways in which power dictates relationships since sex plays a vital role in marriage. The marriage between Nora and Torvald largely revolves around the power dynamic of Torvald making every decision and Nora being repressed by his control. Being Torvald’s wife means Nora is trapped beneath his dominant nature at all times. In this essay I will argue that the constant unequal distribution of power within Nora and Torvald’s marriage shows how the bonds of marriage are used to showcase a socially acceptable way to exert power over someone else’s body.