A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen - Torvald Essay

Essay by Sarah1991 February 2008

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Question 2: Show how the following statement Torvald Helmer relates directly to the critical treatment of an ideology:"The most important thing is that I be a success; all else will follow from that." ~1000 words.

Literary texts often challenge the ideologies of the societies in which they were produced, which is frequently a patriarchy. "A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen was written in Norway in 1879 about a bourgeoisie wife, Nora Helmer, who struggles to break free of her husband Torvald's power over her. During the play, Torvald Helmer tells Nora 'The most important this is that I be a success, all else will follow from that,' a statement that both normalises and is critical of the patriarchy. By examining Torvald and Nora individually, then together, it becomes clear that it takes a feminist standpoint.

Selfishness has never been an attractive trait in a person. However, in the text 'A Doll's House', it is exceedingly obvious that the power held by Torvald Helmer as a male in a strongly patriarchal society has made him very egotistical, and this has made him more successful in turn.

We are positioned to feel for Nora, and thus we see that the way that Torvald is behaving is ridiculous. Torvald, as the primary representative of men in his society shows how superficial the lives of these men are. This is particularly evident when Torvald says 'Nora, I've often wished that you could be threatened by some imminent danger so that I could risk everything I had - even my life itself - to save you.' Ironically, when faced with this opportunity, he claims 'no man would sacrifice his honour for the one he loves', implying that his pride is more important than his life. The juxtaposition of these two ideas shows that the ideas...