Women’s Role based on the Drama ‘A Doll’s House.’

The Role of Women based on the Drama ‘A Doll’s House.’

‘A doll’s house is a drama done by Henrik Ibsen and released in 1879. Henrik Ibsen has depicted realism in his works and has literature refer to him as the founder of realism. (Ettia Meh, I. 2021).  Individuality and humanity have been the social issues depicted by Ibsen in his most works. (Ghafourinia, F., & Jamili, L. B. 2014). Social restrictions and hindrances still stand as a great adversary to anyone since they stand in the way of an individual to realize their full potentials and hinders their freedom. Feminism has also been brought out clearly in the drama defined as a set of actions by the female characters to achieve social and economic freedom in society. (Mitchell, S. 2015). This paper tries to look into the roles of women in society as portrayed in the drama ‘a doll’s house’, what has changed in women’s role since the release of the drama in 1879, and discuss why the traditional female part has remained unchanged in literature. Norah, Mrs. Linde, and the maid depict the women’s role in the drama.

The drama ‘a doll’s house by Henrik Ibsen was done when the women in society had no voice (1879). The women at this time had the role of housework and raising children.  But Henrik, through characters in the play, portrays a different view of women and their roles in society. The play brings out the role of women as being sacrificial. The female characters in the play depict their sacrificial role in the drama. (Pebruantari, R. 2015). The drama brings out women as being sacrificial for their families and even for their wellbeing. The play also depicts women fighting for their rights and trying to search for their potentials. When leaving her husband, Norah slams the door behind her, implying that she has left her past and looks forward to a new life by herself. She has been staying in a house where she doesn’t get an opportunity to exploit her potential as a woman. In a doll’s house, the role of women can be defined as sacrificial roles, as discussed below.

The play introduces us to a middle-class woman Norah, Helmer’s wife, and from her first dialogues with her husband, Norah depicts the role of women. Her husband calls her out by saying, ‘is that my little skylark twittering ?’ ‘My’ use in the statement shows possession and is depicted much in the side of males referring to women. It shows that women belong to men in the play; the male characters have control of the female being. Norah conducts her life according to the frame given by her husband, and her opinion, ideas, and feelings are not known to her husband. Women in this society sacrifice their views and feelings to portray men as heads of the house, capable of doing anything in the house. Norah, by leaving her husband she is condemned as being unfeminine by society. (Ghafourinia, F., & Jamili, L. B. 2014).

Mrs. Linde has more freedom to do what she does since she is not yet married but just having an affair with Krogstad, an employer of Torvald. Mrs. Linde breaks up with her love, and with all the freedom she has to do anything she wants, Linde is not contented with her life until she meets up with her lost love, and clearly states that she needs to be a mother to someone, and a wife to someone. This statement made by Mrs. Linde shows one of the women’s roles in society as being a wife and mother. For a woman to be complete in this society, she needs to have children and have a husband. (Ibsen, H. 2008).

Another character in the drama that brings out the role of women in society is the maid Annie-Marie. Though not commonly spoken about, she brings out the sacrificial role of women as the other women characters. Marie doesn’t have a wealthy father or husband, which forces her to abandon her children to look after Torvald’s children to sustain herself and her children. During the play, a woman leaving her husband and children for any herald was so uncommon and rebuked, but Annie-Marie does it for the sake of her children and herself, a great sacrifice at that time.

Changes in the women’s role since the release of a doll’s house in 1879

Since the release of ‘A Doll’s House’ in 1879, many women movements have tried to liberate women in society. As portrayed by Henrik Ibsen in the drama ‘A Doll’s House’, marriage, social conflicts, and the dilemma of necessity have been a point of reference as the women find their place in society. Women in different settings have been fighting for financial independence and economic solvency through various movements.

The drama ends with Norah leaving her husband and slumming the door behind her.  This depicts Norah as a symbol of women leaving their past and venturing to the future of independence in a society. Norah leaves her husband because of the treatment she gets from her husband. The husband after realizing a secret that Norah had borrowed money, insults her and blames her even though the money had been used on him when he was sick. Norah is seen as a doll by the husband, she cannot bring out any opinion or say out her feelings in her marriage. Norah realizes the inequality in her marriage through the way she is treated by her husband and all these makes her to leave. By Norah leaving the marriage it depicts the beginning of women trying to live outside the bonds of inequality laws in the society. (Kelley, M. 2017).

Why traditional role of women has remained the same in literature.

Despite the movements towards liberation of the rights of women, some of the societies still have remained in the same laws that diminish the role of women in the society. Some societies still have not placed women in the leadership page. Women in some of the societies have no financial independence, and all the properties held by the homes in these societies are held by the men alone. Women in some societies have not realized their value in the development of societies and remain confined to the traditional women roles of keeping the house and raising children. (Freedman, E. B. 2012).

Due to these reasons and many more, the role of women has remained the same in literature so as to drive the notion of liberating women’s rights and roles in the society. Literature being one of the forms of communication to the society has been used to educate and create awareness to the society towards transforming the role of women in the society. Many authors of literature have dwelt in reminding the society of the traditional roles of women and the need to change towards the view of women rights and roles. The literature has also been used to motivate women who have come out to fight for their rights in the society, the works of different authors have encouraged women trying to fight for their rights in a society by giving examples of characters who had fought for the same and have been successful.


Ghafourinia, F., & Jamili, L. B. (2014). The Women’s Right in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Journal of Novel Applied Sciences3(4), 424-429.

Mitchell, S. (2015). Feminism. The Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature, 1-10.

Pebruantari, R. (2015). Marriage Reflected in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House Play (1879): A Feminist Approach (Doctoral dissertation, muhammadiyah university of Surakarta).

Ghafourinia, F., & Jamili, L. B. (2014). The Women’s Right in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Journal of Novel Applied Sciences3(4), 424-429.

Freedman, E. B. (2012). The new woman: changing views of women in the 1920s (pp. 181-202).

Kelley, M. (2017). Private woman, public stage: Literary domesticity in nineteenth-century America. UNC Press Books.

YouTube. (2016, March 12). A Doll’s House (1973). YouTube. Retrieved October 5, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZo6gL3CwrE

Helland, F. (2019). Henrik Ibsen: Critique from within. A Companion to World Literature, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118635193.ctwl0184

Ettia Meh, I. (2021). The misapplication of democracy and the plight of the individual in the drama of Henrik Ibsen. International Journal of Literature and Arts, 9(1), 9. https://doi.org/10.11648/j.ijla.20210901.12











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