Gender Norms in A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Pages: 2
Words: 590

Considering the core themes of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, the following research question has been formulated: “What were the norms and expectations pertaining to gender in nineteenth-century Norway?” The question is essential to explore as the play is set to expose the limited roles of women during the time of its setting and writing, as well as the problems that arise from a significant imbalance of power between genders. For instance, throughout the play, Nora is not treated as an adult while Torvald refers to her as his “pet” or “property,” thus implying that she is not competent or independent enough to be trusted. Even though Nora plays along to this, there are clues that she is unhappy with her limited position as a woman in the society of her time, and her dissatisfaction heightens as the play goes on. Finally, she is brave enough to tell her husband that she does not appreciate her treatment as an individual that has a mind of her own. Therefore, it has been chosen to explore gender affairs of nineteenth-century Norway more in-depth to improve the understanding of the play’s context.

Further Research

Larguèche, Aladin. “Gender Identities and Nation-Building in Norway.” HAL Archives, 2010. Web.

The source focuses on exploring gender identities in the context of the nation-building of Norway from the early to the late nineteenth century. In particular, the author chose to narrow the emphasis on the men and women of the University of Christiania (today Oslo) as it was considered “the nurses of the Norwegian social and political elite during most of the century” (Larguèche 127). The author suggests that in the first part of the nineteenth century, the national paradigm leaned in the direction of developing a specific masculine identity, a period known as the beginning of the national romantic age. From the 1880s, there was an advent of female students’ academic elite, which was critical for building the nation and the development of a new national project based on the rejection of the romantic age and a move toward a democratic political order.

Korsvik, Trine Rogg. “Gender equality policies in Norway:”Everybody’s job, nobody’s responsibility”?” Jagiellonian University of Krakow, 2014. Web.

The source offers a comprehensive breakdown of gender equality policies and their tracing back to the historical development of the nation. The historical background is important for understanding what position did women have in society, what rights were given to them, and what rights they did not have. Since Norway gained independence from Denmark in 1814, women were not considered as citizens of the country, thus had no legal status as well as political, financial, and educational rights. Only from the 1840s and onwards, some gradual changes in this area were made. For example, women were given political rights only at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Five Questions

Stemming from some research and brainstorming, the following research questions are put forth:

  1. How does A Doll’s House reflect women’s limited social status in Norway of the nineteenth century?
  2. How has the masculine dominance of Norway’s social structure affected family and spouse relationships in the play?
  3. Why is Nora forbidden from having any control over the money in the light of gender policies of nineteenth-century Norway? Was the infantilization of women intentional?
  4. How A Doll’s House comment on Norwegian feminism of the nineteenth century?
  5. In what ways Nora’s decision to end her marriage with Torvald reflect Norway’s move toward attaining gender equality?


Korsvik, Trine Rogg. “Gender equality policies in Norway:“Everybody’s job, nobody’s responsibility”?” Jagiellonian University of Krakow, 2014. Web.

Larguèche, Aladin. “Gender Identities and Nation-Building in Norway.” HAL Archives, 2010. Web.