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Power Exchange in Ibsen's: a Doll House

  • Date Submitted: 05/11/2010 12:49 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 63 
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aasLauren Comoletti
WHUM   102 M2

“Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.” – Gloria Steinem
Power is a driving force in many societies, and often serves as the motivation behind one’s actions. Typically, power never remains solely in the hands of a single person for a long period of time. Power exchange and struggles are extremely common, however, in most instances power, or the idea of it, can be deceitful. More often than not, many people come to find that although they believed to have been in a position of power, they were simply led to believe so as a pawn in another persons grapple for power. Ibsen shows an amazing example of this in the case of Nora and the male characters in A Doll’s House.
Act I opens with our first scene of power exchange, and manipulation. Torvald Helmer is, as far as he believes, the sole provider for the family. He is your typical, patriarchal, European man, which comes from a society in which men hold most, if not all of the family power. Nora has just returned from shopping and upon waiting for Torvald to greet her, she sneaks a macaroon, something he does not approve of. Although this small act of rebellion seems insignificant, this is just the first of many ways Nora manipulates Torvald while still appearing to be in her subordinate role. Finally ready to appease Nora, Torvald comes to see what she has bought. At this point he begins to criticize Nora for hey money habits, calling her a “little spendthrift” and lecturing her about money (pg2). With Torvald being the sole provider he holds financial power over Nora.   Whenever Nora needs to shop for herself or the children she must ask and get Torvald’s approval. This places Torvald in a position of power. However, Nora is quick to find a way to place herself back into that position by manipulating Torvald, leaving him to still believe she is still dependent on him. Nora is aware of the power Torvald feels, being able...


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