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A Comparison of Gender-Roles in A Doll's House and A Streetcar named Desire

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Gender-Roles in A Doll's House and A Streetcar named Desire


   The roles of males and females in our society are subjects that entail great criticism, and have been under scrutiny for as long as a `society' has existed. In analyzing A Doll's House by Henrick Ibsen and A Streetcar named Desire by Tennessee Williams, the effects that gender-roles have on relationships is an evident aspect in both of the plays. The choice of words used by the authors strongly underscores the themes of supremacy, selfishness, inequality, and unmistakably, the roles of men and women in society.

 

In Act I of A Doll's House, there are many clues that hint at the kind of marriage Nora and Torvald have. It seems that Nora is a doll controlled solely by Torvald. She relies on him for everything, from movements to thoughts, much like a puppet that is dependent on its puppet master for all of its actions. The most obvious example of Torvald's physical control over Nora is his teaching her the tarantella. Nora pretends that she needs Torvald to teach her every move in order to relearn the dance. The reader knows this is an act, and it shows her submissiveness to Torvald. After he teaches her the dance, he proclaims "When I saw you turn and sway in the tarantella - my blood was pounding till I couldn't stand it"(Ibsen 1009), showing how he is more interested in Nora physically than emotionally. When Nora responds by saying "Go away, Torvald! Leave me alone. I don't want all this"(Ibsen 1009), Torvald asks "Aren't I your husband?"(Ibsen 1009). By saying this, he is implying that one of Nora's duties as his wife is to physically pleasure him at his command.

 

Torvald also does not trust Nora with money, which exemplifi...


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...tely equal, and if neither men nor women used the power that society gives them based on their sex, then, and only then, could true equality exist in our world.

 

Works Consulted

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House (1879). Trans. Rolf Fjelde. Rpt. in Michael Meyer, ed. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 5th edition. Boston & New York: Bedford/St. Martin's Press, 1999. 1564-1612.

Lant, Kathleen Margaret. "A Streetcar Named Misogyny." pp. 225-238 Redmond, James (Editor). Violence in Drama. Cambridge University Press; 1991.

Shaw, Bernard. "A Doll's House Again."  Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism.  Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1979.

Templeton, Joan. "The Doll House Backlash: Criticism, Feminism, and Ibsen." PMLA (January 1989): 28-40.

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: Signet. Original copyright 1947.

 

 


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