Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Individual in society"(A Dolls House)

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ENGLISH EXT TASK 1 - Individual and Society (A Doll House)


The word individual is used when referring to a single human being. In society, an individual is particular person, who is considered special, has a distinct character, and possesses a uniqueness that sets them apart from every other person. Although the concept of individuality seems to suggest difference and separation, all humans are influenced by their environment. Is there such a thing as an individual in society? Or are we all just products of our time, and the society in which we live? Henric Ibsen explores this concept through his play; A Dolls House. Ibsen’s play was set in the 1th century, and reflects many aspects of the society at the time, one of the most important being, the role of women. Throughout my speech I am going to explore the role of women in 1th century society and its relation to the topic; The individual and society.


In the 1th century, British women were expected to marry and have children.


The laws were based on the idea that women would get married and that their husbands would take care of them. When a woman got married, her wealth was passed to her husband. If a woman worked after marriage, her earnings also belonged to her husband. Women would usually not work and had no say in matters of business or finance. The idea was, that upper and middle class women had to stay dependent on a man first as a daughter and later as a wife. In Victorian times, a woman’s life wasn’t her own, it was dedicated to her husband, children, and looking after the home.


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For a woman, marriage meant a life of subservience. They were expected to present themselves in a manner that was both visually pleasing and endearing to their husbands, and were not to do anything that would cause conflict or disharmony within the family. They therefore were unable to express opinions or interfere with the wishes of their husband in any way.


The expectations and role of women in 1th century society is very successfully portrayed in, A Dolls House, through Nora and Torvald’s marriage. Nora illustrates the role that women played within a marriage and society in general. In the beginning, Nora accepts her respective role in the relationship, which is to please, and look pretty for her husband. He treats her like a possession; something to be played with at whim and she assumes her role as Torvald’s trophy woman.


Nora, is in fact, what would be considered as the perfect 1th century woman, as in the beginning, she lives up to the expectations of the time; to be attractive, uncontroversial and subservient. These expectations of women were generated by the severe patriarchal society of the time. Women were almost forced to assume the role inflicted on them by society, or risk being socially outcast, and left destitute. Severe inequality existed in the 1th century, which suppressed women, making them vulnerable, and left them little choice but to conform. A woman’s identity and status was based on the man that she married and she was judged according to him.


By today’s standards this existence would be considered highly unjust and unfulfilling, but the fact remains that many 1th century women accepted this role imposed on them by patriarchal society, and didn’t know any better.


Many of them were so concerned with social acceptance that they didn’t even consider the concepts of independence and individuality. These women were but products of their time; their identities shaped by society and their lives lived according to its expectations.


Although most women conformed, some women did realise the injustice of being a woman and were unhappy with their existence. They knew that by living according to society’s expectations that they were not being honest to themselves or anyone else for that matter.


Towards the end of the play Nora is made to realise that her marriage is false and that she is unfulfilled. This brings to light an internal struggle where her desire to be socially accepted, conflicts with her desire for freedom, truth, independence, and personal identity. This shows that all humans want independence and a feeling of individuality at some point in their lives but society restricts them.


The point that I raise is that no one can really be considered a complete individual in a society. People are but products of their time, influenced by the people around them. They want to be respected, liked and accepted within society and so conform, at the cost of living a lie and loosing their individuality.





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