Exploring Social Conflicts in Literature and Theatre

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Conflict can be found in all literature. The different types of conflict can be identified as man against man, man against self, man against nature, man against society, and man against technology. Many of these conflicts are found throughout this play. This play is about Nora and her husband, Torvald, and their “perfect” life they have to have, or at least have to show. Torvald grows ill, and Nora has to think of a quick way to get money quick, so she can save his life. Nora’s only option (she thought) is to forge her deceased father’s signature for a loan. As the truth of her crime gets out, Nora tries to cover it up from her husband, so they can protect their “perfect” family.
Man against man is a popular conflict within this play. A big example of this was Nora versus Torvald. Their relationship is unhealthy and unstable from the start. Torvald treats Nora like she is his “doll”. He makes sure she looks like the perfect wife and mother. He gives her allowances and tells her what she can and cannot eat. He gives her dehumanizing pet names and lets her know who is in charge of the house. We find out Nora is aware of how he treats her, but she still wants to make him happy. Not only does she commit this crime to say her husband, she does this to prove to herself that she can be independent of him. By the end of the play, Nora has enough and tells Torvald the severity of their situation.

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But our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa’s doll-child; and here the children have been my dolls. I thought it great fun when you played with me, just as they thought it great fun when I played with them. That is what our marriage has been, Torvald (884). She tells him how unfair he has treated her and how she has been a doll to him just like she was to her father. She finally decides to leave him, so she can find herself. Another example of man against man is Nora versus Krogstad. Krogstad is about to lose his job, and he sees if Nora could persuade Torvald into letting him keep his job. When Nora said she would not do that, Krogstad threatens to blackmail her with her crime. Nora still refuses, so Krogstad leaves a letter for Torvald explaining Nora’s crime. Another relevant conflict within this play is man versus self. We see this a lot with Nora in this play. She is her husband’s doll and does whatever he tells her to do. She is aware of this unhealthy situation, but she decides to make it work for now. By the end of the play, she is torn between staying with her family and leaving to find herself and finally be happy. She has done so much for her husband and her family, but she needs to break away and be happy herself. She finally makes her decisions when the news of crime reached Torvald. He blows up in her face and lets her down. He is selfish and only cares about himself, and how this affects him.

Now you have destroyed all my happiness. You have ruined all my future. It is horrible to think of! I am in the power of an unscrupulous man; he can do what he likes with me; ask anything he likes of me, give me any orders he pleases– I dare not refuse. And I must sink to such miserable depths because of a thoughtless woman (880)! Torvald then gets another letter from Krogstad saying he will not release the news of Nora’s crime. He is overjoyed and celebrates that his life is saved. Nora realizes she is not as important to him as she thought she was even though she is his wife. She had enough of this and makes the decision to leave Torvald and their family. I think we can see this conflict of man versus self with Christine. She was in love with Krogstad, and he is in love with her. They want to be together, but they cannot. Christine’s father is ill and she needs to take care of him. If she marries Krogstad, then they would not be able to pay for her father. She is torn between marrying the love of her life or a richer man who can provide for them financially. She decides to marry the richer man because it is what her father needs.

A small conflict within this play is man against nature. Dr. Rank is sick and will be dying soon. He only has a few days left and wants to tell Torvald but decided to have Nora tell him instead. Nora told Torvald, “He told me that when the cards came it would be his leave-taking from us. He means to shut himself up and die” (878). Man against society is a big conflict within this play. Nora is a great example of this. Society back then was different compared to now. Gender roles were a huge part of this time. Women worked at home and took care of the children, while the men went out and worked. Men thought masculinity was important, and it should not be compromised. Torvald tells Nora, “I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora—bear sorrow and want for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his honour for the one he loves” (886). Women had to obey their husbands and do as they say. Just like the play, women we like their dolls. Men would manipulate them to look how a pleasant wife should be. They would tell them what to wear and what to do. They were controlling heir wives. Nora experienced all of this because that is when this play took place. She was faced with choosing to live to the social norms of the time. She succumbs to these norms and deep down is miserable from it. Men against technology is not a huge conflict in this play, but if they had the technology as we do now, everything would be much different. For example, Nora could have been more careful about the forgery and the loan. Another example could be Torvald calling Dr. Rank to make sure he was ok.

This play is full of conflicts. With Nora’s crime, this story unravels with many conflicts as she tries to hide her mistake. Some conflicts within this play are man against man, man against self, man against nature, and man against society. These conflicts lead to Nora’s growth as a person. She realizes how awful her marriage is and decides to leave her husband and family. She leaves so she can learn how to be more independent and how to find herself again.

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Exploring Social Conflicts in Literature and Theatre. (2020, October 08). WritingBros. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/exploring-social-conflicts-in-literature-and-theatre/
“Exploring Social Conflicts in Literature and Theatre.” WritingBros, 08 Oct. 2020, writingbros.com/essay-examples/exploring-social-conflicts-in-literature-and-theatre/
Exploring Social Conflicts in Literature and Theatre. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/exploring-social-conflicts-in-literature-and-theatre/> [Accessed 18 Jun. 2024].
Exploring Social Conflicts in Literature and Theatre [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Oct 08 [cited 2024 Jun 18]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/exploring-social-conflicts-in-literature-and-theatre/
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