Role of a Gender

     Most people see the roles that men and women are supposed to play in life differently. In the past, men were seen as the provider and protector, while women were the homemaker and caretaker. In the present, women have been seen as taking on a stronger role. They are portrayed as being equal to men in many ways. Is this necessarily true? Were there not great women of the past who stood up with the men? Are not there great women of the present who would rather take care of their families than have a career? The problem with today's society, though, is that many of today's women look back on the male and the female of the past and view them as being negative.

     They look down on the man if he felt as if he had power over his wife and they look down on the women who listened to their husbands. I have come to the conclusion that men and women have always been the same. They make themselves who they are and what they want to be. Everyone is able to be whom he or she want to be in life. The difference is who is stronger. Why look down on the people of the past? If people wanted to live differently, they could have.

     The 1879 play, A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, focuses on the life of a man and wife named Nora and Torvald. They are the prime example of the gender roles of the past. Nora is caught in a world of lies and a nonexistent marriage. I did not sympathize for her character at all. In fact, I liked Torvald. Many will argue that Nora is under the restraint of her husband. She is just a poor wife with no life of her own. These people may say that Torvald is shown as being a domineering figure who treats Nora as a child. He uses such words as "squirrel," "skylark," and "dove" to describe her and constantly talks of her chirping around the house.

     At first glance, I saw Nora and Torvald as being this way, but as I read on I changed my mind. He is not the villain whom everyone sees him to be; and she is not the sheltered, weak woman. What has Torvald done so wrong? He was raised in a society that pampers its women and believes that the man is the head of the home. He caters to her and speaks kindly to her. He believes that she is happy. She gives him no reason to think otherwise. She acts as he treats her. She does not try to be independent or strong-willed. Maybe if she were to do these things, Torvald would see her in a different light. Nora does not try.

     The film A Doll's House, made in 1973 by director Joseph Losey and starring Jane Fonda as Nora, proved my feelings about her. Fonda is very immature in her role. She speaks like a child and bats her eyes at Torvald. She even refers to herself with the names that he has called her. She plays Torvald's role of her perfectly. Torvald is played as being kind and taking care of her. When she decides to leave in the end, he is hurt. He is shocked because he has no idea where it came from. Overnight, she decides to stand up for herself. She does not even give him a chance to see her side and see how she feels about his ways. She is very wrong in her actions.

     In conclusion, if any woman was seen as being weak in the past, it was her own fault. Nora has taken no initiative to change her ways. She has followed along with Torvald and let him be her master. She has worried over what he would think and based her happiness on him. Inside, she has pitied herself and wanted more. She should have stood her ground and been a more aggressive woman.

Andrea Lea Yates

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