Ibsen’s famous A Doll’s House is a landmark in the development of truly independent female heroines, rejecting the patriarchy they were socialised to accept unconditionally.
Nora, the main character, fails to make her husband understand that their perception of reality is incompatible as he keeps seeing her as a doll, acting out a pretty life for his pleasure and reputation.
In the original version, Nora shows the path to independence by opting for the uncertain future of a life lived alone and independently, but Ibsen was confronted with dominant misogyny and power play when German theatres in 1880 asked for “an alternative ending”, one in which Nora is emotionally blackmailed into staying with her family for the sake of the children. Curtain falls on that “barbaric act of violence”, as Ibsen himself put it when commenting on the “politically correct” alternative, a rewriting of literature to suit a misogynistic society protective of all documentation of the role of women.
Well, unfortunately we are watching an all too real alternative ending to a century of increasing women’s rights at the moment as well. Across the world, “alternatives” to freedom of speech, movement, and choice are implemented in “so-called democratic processes”, hijacked by the resurrected mindsets of 19th century white, male, heterosexual, pseudo-Christian figures. Domestic violence, rape culture, law-making against family planning and abortion, the alternatives to women’s rights are scarily real.