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On Ibsens A Dolls House Ian Johnston This is the text of a lecture delivered in part in Liberal Studies 310 at Malaspina University-College Nanaimo BC Canada References to Ibsens text are to the translation by James McFarlane and Jens Arup Oxford OUP 1981 This text is in the public domain released July 2000 Those of you who have just read A Dolls House for the first time will I suspect have little trouble forming an initial sense of what it is about and if past experience is any guide many of you will quickly reach a consensus that the major thrust of this play has something to do with gender relations in modern society and offers us in the actions of the heroine a vision of the need for a new-found freedom for women or a woman amid a suffocating society governed wholly by unsympathetic and insensitive men I say this because there is no doubt that A Dolls House has long been seen as a landmark in our centurys most important social struggle the fight against the dehumanizing oppression of women particularly in the middle-class family Noras final exit away from all her traditional social obligations is the most famous dramatic statement in fictional depictions of this struggle and it helped to turn Ibsen with or without his consent into an applauded or vilified champion of womens rights and this play into a vital statement which feminists have repeatedly invoked to further their cause So in reading responses to and interpretations of this play one frequently comes across statements like the following Patriarchys socialization of women into servicing creatures is the major accusation in Noras painful account to Torvald of how first her father and then he used her for their amusement how she had no right to think for herself only the duty to accept their opinions Excluded from meaning anything Nora has never been subject
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