Women Standing Up to Destiny - Empowerment of Isben's Doll House

Henrik Ibsen's Drama, "The Doll House"

In the Doll House, Nora shows a powerful theme - self empowerment. Women entrapped in a drama of home and family, being less than a person proves to be a timeless theme, since this drama was written over 100 years ago.

Personal empowerment is definitely in vogue nowadays. With modern technology, knowledge and increased opportunities available to the average person, it seems the only thing stopping the human potential is the human being alone. Fear, negative thinking or low expectations can definitely limit a person, often unknowingly. Those who want to break through impossible situations can get inspiration and determination by reading the lives of famous people who accomplished more than they alone dreamed possible: individuals such as Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, and others.

Empowerment is defined as the ability to rise up from one's circustances, generated from a power from within to a great extent, with little or no assistance from others. An explosion of identity, a self empowered peson will take responsible for his or her own actions and choices, with no one else to blame.

These are admirable qualities to say the least. It is attractive to be with a person who will not use his friends as an excuse for failure, procrastination and inactivity.

The Story in A Nutshell

An ideal example of a person who has reached this level of self-empowerment is the role of Nora in Henrik Ibsen's play “A Doll's House“. The play was written and premiered in 1879 and it was an instant success.

Based on a true story, the role of Nora is a somewhat spoiled, overly protected woman whose husband holds an important job at the bank. He treats her like his doll. She has no property of her own. Little does he know, Nora saved his life by borrowing money from a friend. Nora understands that her husband is too proud to accept help so she lied that her father gave her the money, which was around the time of his death. Nora struggles to pay off her loan by skrimping and saving from the household expenses.

Nora's friend begins to live with them, a childless widow. Soon she too begins to work at the bank. As time goes on, Nora sees her husband for who he really is. The lender threatens to reveal Nora's loan to her husband. Nora is willing to nearly sacrifice her life in order to save her husband's pride and reputation. At this point, she sees that she is killing herself to support the myth that he is a superhuman being, when in fact he is only an insecure person basing his self-worth on appearances, including his wife. At this point, Nora realizes that she married the wrong person for the wrong reasons, and would prefer to be a woman and not a doll. The husband cries bitterly at her departure, but she must live true to herself. In those days there were less options for women, but the story is a happy one. Nora is now self-empowered, and will definitely survive.

Story behind the Play

As art imitates life, there is a story behind the play.

Henrik Ibsen's friend Laura was the inspiration for this play. She was divorced by her husband over a financial matter. After a time, he begged her to return, which she did. Even so, she had experienced personal empowerment, and was unwilling to accept society's traditional expectations of women. Because of them or in spite of them, over 125 years ago, she became a successful and renown authoress.

As William Shakespeare wrote, “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man“.

The Baird Has a Point

Phrases like Carpe Diem (seize the day) Respite Fine (Look to the End) and Noses Ipsem (know yourself) were in vogue during the Renaissance when William Shakespeare was alive.
Phrases like Carpe Diem (seize the day) Respite Fine (Look to the End) and Noses Ipsem (know yourself) were in vogue during the Renaissance when William Shakespeare was alive. | Source

Art is a Mirror of Society

Now let's get personal. If you are a woman, can you relate to Nora's predicament? If you are a man, is there a woman you know - your wife, sister, or friend, who has also found herself in a web of intrigue based on appearances and false pretenses?

Women's rights have come a long way, but men still have the upper hand. As long as the situation remains, woman feel pressured to give or do more than their circumstances allow to prove their worthiness or equality to men. This sad state of imbalance seems to reinforce the idea that only financial security can be the barometer allowing women to "raise the bar" to be independent of men and able to live true to herself.

Like Nora

Women by nature, let go of their support system when they find a man, real or potential suitor or marriage partner. This is due to the pressure on women to be the pillar of support for their man. Actually this is all wrong. In domestic violent relationships, the male (or female) abuser gains power in the relationship by isolating the victim making him or her "all mine!" Who are they going to run to in times of crisis?

Financial and Emotional backup systems - passive income (through Hub Pages, for example) a healthy (even secret) savings account, many good friends and sources of information are all a woman's best allies in any case. There is safety in numbers.

If you are a friend to such a woman, please encourage her to explore her resources - find out about opportunities for temporary housing, emotional support, and let her expand her base of safety oases in case of abuse and loss of emotional life. These are the true victims, and this is the real danger to disenfranchised women in nearly every society.

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Comments 6 comments

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

You've provided good food for thought here. It can be frightening to follow your own true spirit, but to do so can mean saving yourself from self-loathing.


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 5 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Wow, I really like the way you said that. Self loathing is strongly stated, but that's what it boils down to. I used to work in a convalescent home in high school (thought I would be a nurse) and those who have bitterness and regrets are almost drunk with self loathing. That was an image I'll never forget!


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Another great example of standing up to destiny is in the character of Dulcinea in the classic novel Don Quixote by Cervantes. The town prostitute Adolfo, the hero sees in her the beautiful and fair maiden with depth and potential. We must fight for our own dignity and not allow others to sway us. All humans deserve that, IMHO.


Anil and Honey profile image

Anil and Honey 4 years ago from Kerala

Yes personal empowerment is necessary especially the present situation.more opportunities are available. But some societies are careless in case of woman empowerment ,


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Exactly. Not only careless but traditionally, it was a role women were expected to assume - second fiddle, backup, support, or even maid / servant. However if one person in the family is miserable, the whole family suffers. Rethinking traditional roles can be scary but self empowered individuals raise healthy families which is a micro-society in itself. I want to hank you for commenting, Anil and Honey. Area you based out of India? Here in Croatia, I live in a traditional society and I challenge these stereotypes everyday. I'm happy to say that it's actually working.


Anil and Honey profile image

Anil and Honey 4 years ago from Kerala

No I am Indian citizen 'kerala is a state' of India, we have 28 states. yes our society is traditional.

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