Leaving the Cult of Womanhood: Nora’s departure from Patriarchal Convention in Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”


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The Cult of Domesticity was the invention of late nineteenth-century traditionalists who had become alarmed by the arrival of the “New Woman:” the female who was both financially and intellectually autonomous, and independent from males. As a sort of patriarchal societal back-lash, the Cult of Domesticity was employed and the personality of the “True Woman” was developed to contain the intellectual and physical energy of women to the home, thus, preserving the sacred sphere of public life to men. However, the strict gender roles in Victorian society caused many women to suffer from depression, anxiety, “nervous prostration” and stress—some of the very disorders suffered by Nora, the heroine of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.” Throughout Ibsen’s play, Nora is squeezed by the limited confines of the domestic sphere, undergoing a transformation from the nineteenth-century coined “True Woman” to “New Woman.” Galvanized by the pressure of the Cult of Domesticity, Nora…

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