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A Doll's House
Transcript of A Doll's House
~The origins of the feminist movement are found in the abolitionist movement of the 1830’s
Seneca Falls, New York is said to be the birthplace of American feminism
~Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott spearheaded the first Women’s Right Convention in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848 and the discussion focused on the social, civil, and religious condition of women.
~The convention led to the Declaration of Sentiments
~Modeled after the Declaration of Independence and states that all men and women created equal and spoke of the supremacy of man in regards to divorce and education
~The convention marked a 22 year to gain women the right to vote in the US
refers to being forced to the outskirts of what is considered socially and politically significant; the female voice was traditionally marginalized, or discounted altogether (Delahoyde)
a system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is traced through the male line; a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. (Merriam-Webster).
dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women (Merriam Webster).
Susan B. Anthony: A suffragist, abolitionist, author, speaker, and president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She traveled extensively, campaigning to support a woman's right to vote. She even took matters into her own hands in 1872, when she voted illegally in
A Feminist Literary Theory
By: Gabi Gonzalez, Sandra Li, Eric Gonzaga, Jabria Gary
A Doll's House
Nora's Interactions Through a Feminist Lens
Evidence: When Nora Leaves
Nora's Interaction with Torvald
Nora's Interaction with Krogstad
Nora: It is perfectly true, Torvald. When I was at home with papa, he told me his opinion about everything, and so I had the same opinions; and if I differed from him I concealed the fact, because he would not have liked it. He called me his doll-child, and he played with me just as I used to play with my dolls. And when I came to live with you--
Helmer: What sort of an expression is that to use about our marriage?
Nora [undisturbed]: I mean that I was simply transferred from papa's hands into yours. You arranged everything according to your own taste, and so I got the same tastes as your else I pretended to, I am really not quite sure which--I think sometimes the one and sometimes the other. When I look back on it, it seems to me as if I had been living here like a poor woman--just from hand to mouth. I have existed merely to perform tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it so. You and papa have committed a great sin against me. It is your fault that I have made nothing of my life.
KROGSTAD: I beg your pardon, Mrs. Helmer-
NORA: [With a suppressed cry, turns round and half jumps up.] Ah! What do you want?
KROGSTAD: Excuse me; the outer door was ajar- somebody must have forgotten to shut it-
NORA: [Standing up.] My husband is not at home, Mr. Krogstad.
KROGSTAD: I know it.
NORA: Then what do you want here?
NORA: Oh, how can you say that? I really do save all I can.
HELMER [laughing]: Yes, that's very true- 'all you can.' But the thing is, you can't!
NORA [nodding and smiling happily]: Ah, if you only knew what expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald.
Nora & Torvald Evidence 2
HELMER: Didn't Little Sweet-Tooth just look in at the confectioner's?
NORA: No, honestly Torvald.
HELMER: Not to taste one little sweet?
NORA: No, of course not.
HELMER: Hasn't she even nibbled a macaroon or two?
NORA: No, Torvald, indeed, indeed!
HELMER: Well, well, well; of course I'm only joking.
NORA: [Goes to the table on the right.] I shouldn't think of doing what you disapprove of.
Nora & Krogstad Evidence 2
KROGSTAD: Ah! You know all about it. I thought as much. Now, frankly, is Mrs. Linden to have a place in the Bank?
NORA: How dare you catechise me in this way, Mr. Krogstad- you, a subordinate of my husband's? But since you ask, you shall know. Yes, Mrs. Linden is to be employed. And it is I who recommended her, Mr. Krogstad. Now you know
Nora Levaing Evidence 2
What do you consider my most sacred duties?
Do I need to tell you that? Are they not your duties to your husband and your children?
I have other duties just as sacred.
That you have not. What duties could those be?
Duties to myself.
Before all else, you are a wife and a mother.
I don't believe that any longer. I believe that before all else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are--or, at all events, that I must try and become one. I know quite well, Torvald, that most people would think you right, and that views of that kind are to be found in books; but I can no longer content myself with what most people say, or with what is found in books. I must think over things for myself and get to understand them.
Pros & Cons
Pros of a Feminist Lense
Cons of a Feminist Lense
Some Concluding Words about A Feminist Literary Theory and its application to A Doll's House
Works to improve the voice and portrayal of women in an obvious patriarchal society
Encourages the establishment of an equal treatment between women and men
Challenges tradition as a whole, by questioning one aspect of it; by doing so, it serves as encouragement for overall open-mindedness.
Often in literature there is more than one minority or oppressed group, and in a feminist literary theory, we are addressing/limiting to only one of them.
Limits from the rest of the play, and the other aspects of it (which can be applied to literary theories as a whole).
Can limit perspective and be extended incorrectly and excessively
How literature reinforces or undermines feminine oppression in terms of political, social, economic and psychological aspects of life (Purdue)
Highlighting patriarchy by emphasizing misogyny
Critiques patriarchal language and literature by exposing how these reflect masculine ideology. It examines gender politics in works and traces the subtle construction of masculinity and femininity, and their relative status, positionings, and marginalizations within works (Delahoyde)
While biology determines our sex (male or female), culture determines our gender (masculine or feminine) (Purdue)
~In Germany the feminists were fighting for the right of women to engage in sexual relations regardless of marital and legal consideration
~The contemporary feminist movement began in the 1960’s
~Divorce became commonplace
~Women were “happy housewives” no more
~Higher level employment and fulfillment outside the home were becoming the norm
~Often regarded as an extension of the historical social movements occurring at the time; forms of expressions, such as art, music, literature, etc,are usually used to reflect the environment in which they are produced
~Ex. Renaissance art reflected humanistic ideas
Waves of Feminism
1) First Wave Feminism -
late 1700s-early 1900's: writers like Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Women, 1792) highlight the inequalities between the sexes. Activists like Susan B. Anthony and Victoria Woodhull contribute to the women's suffrage movement, which leads to National Universal Suffrage in 1920 with the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment (Purdue)
2) Second Wave Feminism -
early 1960s-late 1970s: building on more equal working conditions necessary in America during World War II, movements such as the National Organization for Women (NOW), formed in 1966, cohere feminist political activism. Writers like Simone de Beauvoir and Elaine Showalter established the groundwork for the spreading of feminist theories (Civil Rights Movement) (Purdue)
3) Third Wave Feminism -
early 1990s-present: resisting the perceived essentialist (over generalized, over simplified) ideologies and a white, heterosexual, middle class focus. Third wave feminism borrows from post-structural and contemporary gender and race theories to expand on marginalized populations' experiences. Writers like Alice Walker work to "...reconcile it [feminism] with the concerns of the black community...[and] the survival and wholeness of her people, men and women both, and for the promotion of dialog and community as well as for the valorization of women and of all the varieties of work women perform" (Tyson 97). (Purdue)
Delahoyde, Michael. "Feminist Criticism." Feminist Criticism. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.
Hannam, June. "Women's History, Feminist History." Making History. The Institute of Historical Research, n.d. Web. 05 May 2015.
"Mary Wollstonecraft Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 05 May 2015.
"Susan B. Anthony Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 04 May 2015.
“Welcome to the Purdue OWL." Purdue OWL: Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.
the presidential election. She never gave up this fight and finally, 14 years after her death, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving all adult women the right to vote, was passed (Mary Wollstonecraft Biography)
Mrs. Linde & Nora Evidence
A Doll’s House
Speak low. Suppose Torvald were to hear! He mustn't on any account--no one in the world must know, Christine, except you.
But what is it?
Come here. [Pulls her down on the sofa beside her.] Now I will show you that I too have something to be proud and glad of. It was I who saved Torvald's life.
I told you about our trip to Italy. Torvald would never have recovered if he had not gone there--
Yes, but your father gave you the necessary funds.
Nora [smiling]. Yes, that is what Torvald and all the others think, but--
Papa didn't give us a shilling. It was I who procured the money.
You? All that large sum?
Two hundred and fifty pounds. What do you think of that?
But, Nora, how could you possibly do it? Did you win a prize in the Lottery?
[contemptuously] In the Lottery? There would have been no credit in that.
Mrs Linde. But where did you get it from, then? Nora [humming and smiling with an air of mystery]. Hm, hm! Aha!
Mrs Linde. Because you couldn't have borrowed it.
Nora. Couldn't I? Why not?
Mrs Linde. No, a wife cannot borrow without her husband's consent.
Nora [tossing her head]. Oh, if it is a wife who has any head for business--a wife who has the wit to be a little bit clever--
Her most famous work is A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). In the work, she clearly abhors prevailing notions that women are helpless adornments of a household. Instead, she states that a confined existence makes women frustrated and transforms them into tyrants over their children and servants. The key, she purports, is educational reform, giving women access to the same educational opportunities as men. Her ideas were revolutionary and controversial for her time period (Susan B. Anthony Biography)
By reading A Doll’s House through a feminist lens, the inferior role of a woman in society is both highlighted, and criticized through the interaction of the characters of the play.
~How is the relationship between men and women portrayed?
~What are the power relationships between men and women?
~How are male and female roles defined?
~What constitutes masculinity and femininity?
~How do characters embody these traits?
~Do characters take on traits from opposite genders? How so? ~How does this change others’ reactions to them?
~What does the work reveal about the operations (economically, politically, socially, or psychologically) of patriarchy?
~What does the work imply about the possibilities of sisterhood as a mode of resisting patriarchy?
~What does the work say about women's creativity?
~What does the history of the work's reception by the public and by the critics tell us about the operation of patriarchy?
Some Typical Questions