Gender Roles in Literature

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Throughout the history of literature, gender has played a significant role in how the characters were portrayed. The female gender is commonly depicted as being the weaker character while the male gender stronger. The male gender is often considered to be more rational thinking and women being more irrational. Ibsen uses these stereotypical gender traits throughout his play “”A Doll’s House,”” but then he later reverses the stereotypes towards the end of the play to display that inner strength and weaknesses are characteristics of being human and are not based on being male or female.

Ibsen’s play “”A Doll’s House,”” is written to focus on the gender roles most commonly displayed during the Victorian society. During the Victorian period males were always the ones that went to work, handle all the business matters and where considered to be the head of the household leaving their wives to care of the household chores and tend the children. During this time only unmarried women were allowed to hold jobs. Ibsen’s characters Helmer and Nora were a perfect example of how a married couple lived during the Victorian era. Torvald was a bank manager and managed all the money and he often commanded Nora on what to do and when to do it. Nora, being the traditional wife during this time was only allowed to stay at home and tend to the household duties and raise their children.

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Torvald asserted his dominance over Nora early in the play in several different ways. He often refers to Nora as a pet by calling her animals such as “”lark”” and squirrel.”” Torvald says, “”Come, come; my little skylark must not droop her wings. What is this! Is my little squirrel out of temper? (Taking out his purse.) Nora, what do you think I have got here?”” (Gardner 2017). Torvald show his control over Nora when he “”takes her by the ear,”” this act represents his physical, emotional and financial control over her, in return Nora quietly accepts the nicknames he’s given her and that displayed her feminine weakness.

Nora’s character encountered several problems throughout Ibsen’s play, just because she was a female during the Victorian period. When Torvald became ill, the doctor informed them that for him to get better, it would be best for them to move south, however, for them to make the move they would have to scrounge up the funds of two-hundred and fifty pounds. Because they did not have the money to make the trip, they would either have to take out a loan from the bank or hope that Torvald overcame his sickness.

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