The folllowing sample essay on Sacrifice For Family Essay discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
1. Making sacrifices The author looks at this theme from several viewpoints: to what extent are we ready to give to protect the ones we love, the difference between sexes (women seemingly being less selfish), also at sacrifice as a proof for emotions. Also, the play focuses on often very relative differences between sacrifice and duty.
2. Independence and freedom The play manifests necessity of independence in life as well as in any relationship. Before everything else, we are human beings, not somebody else’s spouses, children or dolls. Before duties and responsibilities that we have for others we have responsibilities to ourselves. Ibsen analyses the difference between the view that the individual has of himself and what his fellow humans’ opinions of him are, asserting that it is more important to gain self-respect than to suffice with fulfilling others’ expectations that may be in conflict with one’s own.
3. (im)possibility to love truly This is one of the “problems of the modern life” that are focused on in “The Doll’s House”. The characters of this play marry (form relationships) because of money, or to feel useful, or just because they feel like they have to. Relationships that are commonly approached the most important in life, form between strangers, and it is unlikely to love somebody who is actually a stranger.
What should be love reveals to be a game of doll and the doll master (Nora and Torvald) or a compensation of past failures (Christine and Krogstad). This problem is strongly linked to another theme in this work-
4. Alienation and loneliness This is another modern calamity. Each of Ibsen’s characters is in some way or another detached from others and does not see the real meaning of his or her life. As it is shown at the end, Helmers only considered their marriage a proof that they have a goal in their lives; Krogstad’s and Christine’s unification was a desperate step, hoping that two unhappy, unsuccessful people will do better together. Nora, the central character, has been alienated from her life, even from her true self, for all her lifetime. She has lived like in a trance, accustomed to the role of somebody else’s inferior.
5. Greediness and the exaggerated importance of money Even though quite a lot of the problems discussed in the play arise from character’s tendency to overestimate the importance of money, valuing that higher than feelings (Torvald, once Krogstad), I consider this only a minor theme. The reader has to re-evaluate his/her own attitudes, though. 6. Marriage The view upon marriage that Ibsen has in this play is common now but was provocative at the time it was written. Here, marriage is revealed to be full of alienation even when both spouses have supposedly chosen it themselves (theoretically, Nora was not under pressure to marry Torvald). Ibsen stresses that marriage should be based upon equity; Nora’s sacrifice could not be compensated with the small sums of money that Torvald gave her (actually buying her physical love). A married couple should continue being individuals, not become each other’s supplements.
7. Human, particularly women, rights 8. Men’s tendency to treat women as dolls Ibsen notes the importance for each person to have the opportunity to explore and expose one’s true identity. The play contains a powerful protest against role- playing that is often required and seemingly obligatory in the society. It shows how the individual can actually lose his own self (or never see a need to get to know who he really is and what he really thinks), pursuing the role that he mistakenly recognises as his own identity. Ibsen stresses that before being or becoming anything else, we are all equal human beings. As prejudices about the role that has to be played in family, are commonly afflicting women, and the main character is Nora, the play is more focused on women rights to their own lives, opinions and identities.
The play also focuses on the theme of woman being a man’s doll, which is itself nothing modern. This has been a common phenomenon, almost a tradition, established with the harems and polygamy before our era, and more than accurately proceeded until nowadays (one of the most popular striptease clubs in Riga is called “Dolls”). The play does not show the lasting nature of this tradition, but exposes it vividly and horribly enough. Characters Nora Helmer Throughout nearly all the play, Nora demonstrates herself as a naive, a bit silly, inexperienced and obedient wife to her husband Torvald. She can hardly be referred to as a person, for there is nothing personal in her character – all she is is what others, her father and Torvald, have made of her.
However, during the play, Nora’s awareness of both herself and the world around her increases. She becomes able to recognise that her relationship with Torvald puts her in a position of a pet or a doll. Nora notes that Torvald, whom she has always assumed to be a good person (and wonderful husband), is actually mean- he is determined to sack Krogstad only because he assumes that Krogstad’s familiarity towards him might harm his reputation. Nora’s illusions of her husband and marriage quell completely when she sees Torvald’s behaviour after he has read the letter informing of her fraud. Unexpectedly, Nora finds strength in herself to give up the lifestyle that she has been taught to pursue since her very childhood. Her sudden courage lets the reader anticipate other qualities that Nora might possess but has never been able to show.
Torvald Helmer Complete possessiveness over Nora and superior attitude are both observable in every Torvald’s action that is linked to his wife. Torvald enjoys having total control, and not only over Nora (he gives Christine directions about knitting). At the same time, Torvald is a superficial, narrow-minded person (Nora rightly assumes that he will not love her when she will have grown old- Torvald can only feel physical attraction). He would not be able to be present at his best friend’s deathbed because of his dislike of weak, dying people. Torvald is unable to feel overwhelming emotions (perhaps except rage), to give to others.
Setting All the action of the play is set in the Helmers’ family house, which is situated in the centre of a city. The rooms are tastefully and pleasantly, but not very expensively furnished (Helmers have not been that financially secure). The house is cosy and warm, with a fireplace. The events take place in winter, beginning on Christmas Eve. Vocabulary Spendthrift, macaroon, skylark, precarious, imprudent, zealously, unassailable, obstinate, rogue, incubus, prompt, wedlock, heedless, elapse, variegated, tremendous, consternation. Yet, I noticed some more specific vocabulary- all the names that Torvald has for Nora that reveal the nature of their relationship and Torvald’s possessiveness:
Both of these works deal with individual’s role in society and more specifically, family. In “Metamorphosis”, Gregor is his family’s material supporter, putting off dreams of his own; in “A Doll’s House”, Nora Helmer is her husband’s sexual plaything, not allowed to have her own will or identity. Both these characters leave their families. Nora realises that both her and her family members are too involved in a game of dolls and masters to be able to develop as human beings; Gregor, already turned into an insect, sees that his role in family as the sole supporter has actually allowed them to immerse in a state of artificial, prolonged apathy.
There is one important difference between the two works- Ibsen has taken a position from which Nora’s decision at the end of the play seems entirely correct; Kafka, however, looks at the situation not only from Gregor’s, but from several viewpoints. In “Metamorphosis”, none of characters is completely wrong or correct because the author would have wanted it; the reader may decide by himself.
However, the most significant mutual feature of these works is even more vital and it lies in their point of view, in the sense with which they are written- alienation, separation, inability to integrate oneself not only in the world, but also even in one’s family. Both pieces’ main characters are in disharmony even with themselves. This makes both “Metamorphosis” and “A Doll’s House” topical and substantial for the society- the main characters are common people going through the most serious and widespread problems of our time.
Commentary The play shows how easy it is to lose oneself in relationship. Other’s expectations may seem more important than preserving one’s own self. However, the play focuses on a rather extreme situation- in the Helmer family, Torvald’s expectations to Nora are more like demands- to obey, to be his “little squirrel”, his doll. This is what lets us evaluate the whole situation and be quite certain that Torvald’s actions are demagogical and harmful to Nora. In the real life, on the other hand, adaptation is a normal part of a lasting relationship, and the demands that are made are often logic. When my mother demands me to clean my room, I obey. I don’t say that she hinders my development and oppresses my identity even though cleaning my room is an alternative to something relatively more valuable like writing a story. If I agree to clean my room, it does not make me anybody’s doll, because I know about the sacrifices my mother has made or tried to make to bring me up and is still making.
But there are more difficult situations in life. For example- my father has four children and I am the eldest. I would like to try and find some interesting occupation connected with art or literature (both are my hobbies, and I have had enough success to keep going and see some perspectives for myself). Then again- these are not jobs that let one earn much, and I have good marks in nearly any subject. I am not sure of what will become of the other children. Further, my younger half-brother is invalid, some disease that I had, too, but in my case, the doctors did notice. With my brother, it was too late, and some parts of his brain had been damaged. Now, he is six, but he does not talk and has co-ordination problems. And basically, nothing can be done about it here in Latvia.
I know he could get better help abroad, but that would cost very much. I feel like I owe him. It was mere chance that I was saved and he was not- sometimes I am not sure if he has any life at all, or that he will have. I have decided to get a proper education and enter a proper high school, and then find an occupation that would perhaps bore me to death, but give me chance to help my brother. And not only him- it might happen that I have a bunch of people to take care of, anything might happen. But it might end up with them using me (approaching me as a money- making mechanism as Nora was approached as a doll) or feeling like they owe me. And I would partly have to give up my own true identity, too, to an extent, to do this money job. I do not know what I should do and what would be the right choice. But I am quite certain about what I will do.
What seems to me uninteresting in this work is that it is so easy to see what the characters should do, to distinguish right from wrong. Of course, at that time the bond of marriage was considered more important, more sacred, than it is now, therefore the play could be received in a more disunited way- that Nora’s decision was incorrect. However, I dislike that Torvald seems so absolutely wrong (and a bad person besides), while Nora looks unquestionably correct. Ibsen has made everything seem so obvious- he does not remind the reader of motherless children, but focuses on Nora’s romantic, poetic quest for freedom. It makes the play too one-sided.
However, the one-sided view does not deter the reader from paying more attention to another tendency in our society- the willingness with which individuals are ready to give up control over their lives, handing it over not only to their family members like Nora, but also to strangers (for example, reality shows; the excessive amounts of personal information often available to state; sadomasochism). I think that this fear of responsibility points to serious identity problems- so widespread that they have actually become problems of the whole society.