Ibsen spends lavishly on Christmas gifts. By doing so,

Ibsen critiques the
perception of women in the Victorian Era by characterizing Nora with

stereotypical traits.
Stereotypes are a widely held and fixed belief that generalize how a character
behaves; this is an image created by a society dominated by men and imposed
upon women. The stereotypes Ibsen employs include being a spendthrift,
passivity, dependence on men and inferiority. In the beginning of the play,
Nora is characterized as “spendthrift” (Ibsen 7), by her husband, and the
audience is inclined to agree since she tips the porter generously and spends
lavishly on Christmas gifts. By doing so, she showing her spending pattern and
completely disregards the idea of repaying back her debt. This highlight how
the Victorian men viewed women: incapable of saving money and financially irresponsible.
Torvald symbolizes the general population and Nora represents the stereotypical
financially careless woman.  Moreover, Ibsen
characterizes Nora as dependent upon Torvald, which is yet another stereotype. Nora is solely
dependent on Torvald, constantly pleading with him for money by acting in a way
that appeals to him, such as calling herself a “skylark” (Ibsen 8). Another
example of this would be the fact that Nora, prior to marrying Torvald, was
dependent on her father. This is evident when Nora recounts to Helmer how
her father treated her as a “doll-child” (Ibsen 60) an object that cannot do
anything on its own and instead relies on its owner. By utilizing this
stereotype, Henrik Ibsen highlights the Victorian percept that women were
nothing more than puppets that are dependent on their puppeteers (the man in
her life). Lastly, another example of a characterization used by Ibsen is
passivity. Nora is seen as a passive woman, more specifically, as a woman who
accepts what she is told because she is weak; this is evident when Torvald
refers to her using several condescending pet names. The very first time when
he uses a pet name is when he says, “Is that my little lark twittering out
there?” (Ibsen 7); by Nora responding, “Yes, it is!”  (Ibsen 7), Ibsen
shows that she is accepting and conforming to society’s values. Similarly, when
Nora asks Torvald for money, he tells her, “It costs a lot of pennies, to keep
a little featherbrain” (Ibsen 5), which is used to characterize a silly,
absent-minded person. By using such discourteous words, Torvalds is merely
degrading his own wife. Likewise, using other pet names like, “My little
squirrel” (Ibsen 7) and “My precious little singing bird” (Ibsen 28), Torvald is
treating his wife condescendingly, showing that her worth of a woman and a wife
is below that of her husband’s. As seen in the above example, the playwright
uses the stereotype to highlight the Victorian perception that women were
weaker in every possible aspect and therefore could be dominated by men. Thus,
Ibsen’s characterization of Nora reveals stereotypical traits that further aid
him to critiques the perception of women in the Victorian Era.  

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