A FEMINIST READING AND SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE OF HENRICK IBSEN’S ‘A DOLL’S HOUSE(4)

Antigone certainly being one of the celebrated Greek protagonists undertakes the precarious task of burying the corpse of Polynices. Creon has already averted anyone from performing funeral rites to Oedipus. Antigone defies this proscribe, thereby incurring the wrath of Creon. She is imprisoned in a cave sans food and water for several days. She endures the penalty while attributing her action to the higher laws of Gods. Nora equally defies the law by forging her father’s signature to restore Helmer’s health. Their actions are perfectly justified since they re impose human dignity. It is a clear thesis of ends justifying the means. Antigone and Nora confront egoistic men in their lives. These men are pre-occupied with their positions in society, which is quite threatened by the activities of women. Creon in his haughtiness is reluctant to defy the law of the god. When Helmer reads Krogstad’s menacing letter, I clasped my hands and prayed fervently that he would extol Nora for her sacrifice and would unruffle her agitated mind. On the contrary he yells at her and abominates her, presuming that society would suspect his hand in the crime. When Creon and Helmer offer their apologies on a platter, it is too late because the women are not in a position to accept it. When Creon rushes to the cave to free Antigone she has hung herself. The moment Helmer regains his patronizing attitude towards Nora, his doll is metaphorically dead. She liberates herself from the muddles of patriarchy to assert her identity. She leaves Helmer’s household slamming the door behind her. The heroic image of Helmer is dilapidated in Nora’s mind, when he reads Krogstad’s letter. He stoops down to pacify the matter by condescending to the Krogstad’s demands in order to evade any perils. It is this act of his that enrages Nora to walk out of the marriage.

Nora had anticipated him to take blame on himself and confronts Krogstad with valor. He abuses her by saying:

“ All the eight years- she who was my pride and joy a hypocrite, a liar worse, worse a criminal!.”

She had been his pride and joy but not his love. Helmer becomes the quintessence of most thankless men when he utters: “But no man would sacrifice his honour for the one he loves.”

Nora symbolizes the numerous renunciations performed by women when she replies: “It is a thing hundreds and thousands of women have done.”

Women’s sacrifices scarcely features in t he limelight. Multitude of his attempts to re-arrest Nora in his doll’s house proves futile. Nora had already realized her primary duty towards herself and is disinclined to abide by the doctrines of religion sans interrogating them. In short she is aware of the fallacy of their marriage. In fact there is something startling about a woman who leaves her home in the dead of the night, deserting not only husband but also her beloved children. She has undertaken a peregrination with a quest for individuality while being seethe with the spirit of Ulysses: “To strive, to seek and never to yield.”