Mandatory Readings 2.: A Doll’s House

ImageHenrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House was also given to us as a book we have to read for the module Storytelling for the Screen. And before I say anything about that topic, I have to make a statement: I’m not into classical literature. Not in the slightest bit. I don’t know anything about it, I’ve never wanted to know anything about it. I think this can change in the (near) future, but that doesn’t change the fact that right now, at the moment I have very little knowledge about literature. I mean, I know titles, I know writers and poets, I know where and when they lived – but in detail, I mean regarding the meaning, and style, and purpose of works of classical literature… now that is a field I’ve never been to. I’m not proud of it, I’m not ashamed of it, I’m just stating it as a fact. And actually that is why I won’t really get into analyzing A Doll’s House, I won’t write an article about it’s narrative, or use of characters or dialogues, and because I’d like to discuss these things first with other people in my class. But what I will do is to share with you the thoughts I had after reading this play. Thoughts about the ending, in particular, because I think something really important is written down in A Doll’s House, something that would be a really nice thing if it would come to life. At least, in my opinion. But what is this thing exactly? Let me quote the play itself, so from now on there will be HEAVY SPOILERS regarding this book, because I’m just about to write down one of the turning points of the play towards the end of it. So, let’s read it together:

Nora Helmer, the play’s protagonist is just about to leave her husband, Torvald Helmer, and her children.

Nora: I must try and get some sense, Torvald.

Helmer: To desert your home, your husband and your children! And you don’t consider what people will say!

Nora: I cannot consider that at all. I only know that it is necessary for me.

Helmer: It’s shocking. This is how you would neglect your most sacred duties.

Nora: What do you consider my most sacred duties?

Helmer: Do I need to tell you that? Are they not your duties to your husband and your children?
Nora: I have other duties just as sacred.

Helmer: That you have not. What duties could those be?
Nora: Duties to myself.

Helmer: Before all else, you are a wife and mother.

And here comes the important thing.

Nora: 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.

Wow. Great words of wisdom. The line that hit me the most was “I believe that before all else I am a reasonable human being”. There are many thoughts in these lines that were very important that time – but that are still really important in many ways. Of course nowadays words like “Everybody is equal”, etc. are mostly connected with the fight against racism and the fight for gay rights, at least in the “Western parts of the world”. Still, I think that there’s more to these thoughts that many people seem to look over. I believe that everybody is born equal, yes, I truly believe that. And most of my friends believe that, too, at least I hope. But despite that, there’s a really strong thought among most of the people I know, and that thought is the following: men and women are very, very different. I mean, in a psychological way. That men and women think in a strikingly diffirent way.

We all know what I’m talking about, right? Hearing teenager girls talking like “Boys are all the same, they do the same things, they do this, they do that, it’s all so typical”. I’d like to stress the world typical. And of course on the other hand we have the boys who just cannot figure out what wome– sorry, girls want, because their mind is like the most difficult system of locks and doors and no one has access to it. It’s like: only boys understand boys, and only girls understand girls. I face these kind of conversations all the time, and actually I’ve always thought that the difference between women and men is… well… not that big. Maybe even… non-existent. Again, I mean it in a psychological way.

I’m sure there are lot of psychology books about why women and men are so different in mind and thought, I’m just saying that maybe it would be simpler if we considered the two sexes as… not-so-different. Because after all, we are all human beings, just as Nora have said it. And that is what stroke me the most in A Doll’s House – I thought that this is such a modern idea, that there shouldn’t be any differences between men and women. If you’re born a man it doesn’t mean you have to kill mammoths and sabretooth tigers every once in a while, and if you’re born a woman it doesn’t mean you have to stay around the cave searching for fruits and nuts. It meant that 40.000 years ago, but mankind evolved. The circumstances of your birth (regarding birthplace, birth time, race, gender, sexual orientation, cultural impact, etc.) shouldn’t lock you up in a cage for the rest of your life. You always have the right to change. You can do anything you want in your life, with your life. Nobody should hold you back based solely on what you physically are. Nora realized that she’s been a mother, a housewife all the time. And she realized that she didn’t want to do this anymore. Not for a while, at least. Later in her life, she may return to the role of a mother. But first she has a very imporant task to accomplish: to get to know herself. To discover herself and to develop herself into a “fully formed” human being. Not just a body and a label on it, but also a soul.

What I think is really important here is that nobody is different. Yet everyone is an individual. But – and that’s only my opinion – deep down we all work the same. We have the same feelings, the same motivations, the same experiences and the same goals. If others would think like that, too, relationships and life in general would be so much easier… but I don’t want to make everybody think like me, do I? How dictatorial would it look like?

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One Response to Mandatory Readings 2.: A Doll’s House

  1. Hahn Csaba says:

    I do not have to do anything. I do not have to be any. I do not have got duties. I am free. Nobody has the right to say to me what should I do, what should I be.

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