Melany Kersey ENG 1102 B.

Bush March 4, 2009 Disillusion of the Traditional Family Families have grown apart in this generation. The traditional family no longer exists. What is the traditional family? Stephanie Coontz suggests that a traditional family contains a father who earns all the money, a mother who stays home, and the children (23). Not many families today conform to this traditional recipe. In 1879, the play A Doll’s House is written by Henrik Ibsen. The play portrays the traditional family. Nora, the wife, is a traditional mother that struggles with personal conflicts within her own self. For mothers in this time in history, this was something that was happening to scores of women. Women now still struggle with the same conflicts and problems but in a different manner. Today women not only have to be a fulltime homemaker and pacify their husband’s wants and needs full-time, but they are also expected to work full time outside of the household. The problem of today’s families is the disillusion of the traditional family, due to the fact that women’s roles are being pulled out of the household. Nora, in a role as a traditional mother in 1879, gives a close look at what mothers had to deal with in that time in history. In addition to the duties of a homemaker, Nora accepts the burden of saving her husband’s life at all costs. Nora’s husband is dying and she makes the choice to commit forgery to get the money to save her husband’s life. In a biography by Micheal Meyer, the invention notes for the play can be found. Isben sat at his apartment window and jotted down ideas for his play by watching the way people were reacting towards one another on the street. The way couples were talking and reacting toward other couples. Isben writes,

His fight for women may have lead to the idea of the ending of the play. Meyer reveals Isben’s attitude. cause most women to have a conflict within their own selves. In this time in history. she losses faith in her own morality. Men think that all the women are here for is to have babies and raise them the way the man says to do. women have something in common with the true artist . Weighed down and confused by her trust in authority. like certain insects. “You [Nora] are not equipped to teach my children” (Isben 4). The play was written during a time when Isben was fighting for the right of women to vote in a Scandinavian Club. . and in her fitness to bring up her children. instinctive genius . that she is not intelligent enough to teach their children. even though it is to save his life.Kersey2 . . Helmer says. . Most today still hold the same attitudes toward women. After the voting was over and Isben did not win the . Moral conflict. Attitudes like this towards women. Helmer’s character portrayed the feeling most men had in 1879. “But no man sacrifices his integrity for the person he loves” (7 Isben). Many men not only would not sacrifice those things for women but also thought that the children were theirs. . Bitterness. “A mother in modern society. Helmer identifies this attitude when he says. . But this husband of hers takes his standpoint. . Helmer thinks this because Nora has committed a crime.” (449). Helmer did not love Nora enough to sacrifice his standing in the community for her. and sees the situation with male eyes. (Meyer 446) This is the beginning of a play that will astonish the world and shocks people into reality. . “. to save his life. Isben says. men had to answer for the wrong doings of their wives. conventionally honourable. retires and dies once she has done her duty by propagating the race” (Meyer 446). . In the biography. on the side of the law.

“This sort of moral cruelty . Men make women feel little and not intelligent to make their own selves feel better. or verbally abused. Hill McGraw says. The women were. Many women in the 1890’s did not work but were at home with their children. Helmer will not allow any change within the house for any reason. Lou Salome. “intrigued and agitated against him” (Meyer 450). Men that do those things to women can be categorized as men trying to control women. In 1950 women still faced problems with not being able to do certain things they wanted to do outside of the home. all behaviors that she considered to result from men’s primary motivation. McGraw says. more than likely. like a winning team. says. In the play. in an argumentative paper written about the play. This is Helmer’s way of controlling his life. “In many states. . . the primal instinct of self. Margaret Stetz claims. . as they do today. “His sealed Doll’s house does not lend itself to disruptive change. largely dependent upon someone known only as . “.preservation” (3). but most men can be found practicing this instinct in order to control or dominate women and make them feel better. another is to play up the qualities of your own group and denigrate the attributes of others so that you feel your group is better. One can see this when a woman is battered. Men dictate how things are to be in the home. Suzanne Marilley says. women couldn’t serve on juries or get loans or credit cards in their own names” (111). faced with their husbands looking down on them because of them secretly wanting this little bit of freedom. The home is not for the women but for the men. . Women in the 1890s hid the beating and the abuse. Not all men possess this attribute. beaten. “One way to lift your self-esteem is to be part of a distinctive group.” (92). The women had nurse maids to tend to their children everyday. This still holds true today for a lot of women. it must retain his sense of comfortable order” (70). These women had no freedom within their own homes or outside the home. A Doll’s House Nora was not a working mother.Kersey3 fight for women. he faced women that were.

Kersey4 “Nurse. . married women in the United States began withdrawal from the workforce. They were the norm throughout most of the last two millennia. whether it be working or staying home with the children. Women were not allowed to work but instead had to live by the social standards that society had set for women. women have to sacrifice time away from home to work.” though she is now more usually an immigrant from a poorer country” (153). Women are faced with the dilemmas. When child labor was abolished. . A family cannot make it today without both partners working. married women began reentering the workforce in [even] larger numbers. McGraw writes. The bottom line is most women have to work for the family to survive. McGraw says. Families in which mothers spend as much time earning a living as they do raising children are nothing new. When women start entering the workforce. Coontz says. the concept that most women have is they will be paid as men are paid for the same job. Women not only face the dilemma of working but now they have to face the issue of equal pay. In today’s society. In the 19th century. “In the work force. (112) In history and even today. a majority of women have to work. “Few women are fully self-confident in the choices they have made over the past two decades. they agonize over whether gains in personal independence have been bought at the cost of stable interpersonal relationships” (150). Women today still depend on nurse maids. This has causes a major conflict within the family structure. women’s pay averages only 76 percent of men’s . Women find this to be a disillusion as they see the effects of their first paychecks. but for most families this was made possible only by sending their children out to work instead.

has been called the . but progress is still needed. Bruno Leone wrote. The slamming of the door was an epiphany for many women. Women want to be at home with their children but they also have to work. . 5). One can look at the play and then at society and see that when women do the same as men. the slam that reverberated around the world” (11). . Society as a whole seems to set the standards for women.Kersey5 pay” (107). even though women make up part of the society. the moment when she leaves her family. “Nora Helmer’s last definitive act . the family still suffers in the long run. Women are told what to do. This is still a problem with today’s workforce. Women being pulled outside the home have caused the disillusion of the family. Many women awaken to realize that they are intelligent and they have choices in life just as men do. Even though Nora’s descendants have awakened to realize that they can work and have their family too. Not many women were awakening to the idea of working mothers until they saw or heard about the play A Doll’s House. slamming the door behind her. Coontz says. the family still suffers. If a woman does not fulfill the identity that society holds for them then they are ridiculed and judged by mostly everyone. Whether it’s because women are working outside the home or because the family has separated. Women sit back and let this happen. Women have come a long way since 1879. how to act. . “‘the root cause’ of the problems Americans face as the twentieth century draws to a close is an ‘epidemic of family breakdown’ ” (256). . Women are not paid as much as men to do the same job. My duties [are] to myself” (2. Women are being . and what to wear. Women are still trying to earn as much as men but are not accomplishing the worth that men have put on women’s significance in the workforce. Nora wakes up and realizes the change within her own self. they are judged more harshly than men. Even before Nora slams the door she awakens and realizes that “I [have] changed now.

As a society.Kersey6 pressured more by society today as the economy has fallen and divorce rates have risen. women are the ones to make life go on. . After all. it is time for the women to step up and say we will no longer let our families suffer! We will intertwine our work lives and home to find a way to make the family stronger.

Kersey7 .

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