When You Leave the Doll's House You Become . . . Overwhelmed
I finished Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House this morning-- if you haven't read it (and I hadn't until now, though many of the teachers at my school use it in class) then I recommend doing so; it's a fast read, and though it was written 1879, the plot and problems are thoroughly modern-- a woman torn between being the archetypal mother/wife figure and pursuing and resolving initiatives in the wider world (and it's not a static, philosophical feminist treatise or utopian absurdity . . . the plot forces the issue, and while I rarely read drama, I breezed through this one) and in the end -- SPOILER ALERT! -- and, honestly, I'm not sure a spoiler alert is necessary when a work of art is over a century old, but at the end of the play, Nora walks out on Torvald, right out the door, and right into . . . the other book I am reading, which my wife checked out of the library, read a few pages, and realized that she didn't need to read on because she lives the life described inside; it is called Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time by Brigid Schulte, and I find it fascinating, probably because I jealously guard my leisure time and try to make time for a host of enjoyable activities-- even it means neglecting housework, children, preparation for my job, or amicability-- but Schulte's thesis is that women have a harder time of this . . . they have left the doll's house, but they haven't left the doll's house . . . women work more than ever, but they still take care of the kids more than men do, and do more housework than men do, and experience more fragmentation of time than men do, and multitask more than men do, and live under the shadow of "the ideal worker" who has no responsibilities or time restraints and can devote himself entirely to a career . . . and I'm not sure there is a resolution to this paradoxical Catch 22 . . . neither end of the spectrum is appealing, but I will say this: it sounds really fun to be a man in Italy (25% of Italian men do no housework and the average Italian male has an hour and half more leisure time than the average Italian woman . . . per day).