In the novels A Doll's House and Antigone, Ibsen and Sophocles respectively create two lead female characters, Nora and Antigone, who confront society's expectations of women in fundamentally different ways. Nora goes against the grain of middle class society by first forging her father's signature and then deceiving her husband, Torvald, throughout their marriage; Antigone, on the other hand, openly challenges and defies the rule of men, including her uncle and King of Thebes, Creon. Although Nora and Antigone share some comparable personality traits, like being strong willed and motivated, they confront the men in their lives and their comparable societies in two distinctive ways, which, as a result, leads to two differing denouements.
Nearly every society, Nora and Antigone's are no exception, dictates a specific place or purpose for women, and while Nora and Antigone's respective societies possess some similarities regarding women's place and purpose, they contain several important differences. In Antigone, for example, the relative worth and status of women in Thebian society seems clear; women are to submit to the rule of man. Ismene suggests this submissive attribute of women in Thebian society when she begs Antigone not to defy Creon's commands, "Remind ourselves that we are women and as such are not made to fight with men." (193) Evidently the Thebian society controlled by men has kept a lid on women's individuality so much so that even a member of the royal family, Ismene, speaks of the futility in attempting to clash with the rule of man. Furthermore, Creon asks Antigone if she is "ashamed to differ from such men [the Chorus]?" (212) This suggests that in Thebian society w...
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...igone respectively. Both plays focus on women's place in society and the struggle of two women to discover the repression of women latent in society and to break free of that repression. Surprisingly enough the two societies maintain similar expectations of women, but Nora and Antigone break those expectations via different methods unique to their situations. Nora is repressed by her husband and society, whereas Antigone is repressed by Creon and Thebian society, and while Nora deceives her husband for the majority of their marriage, Antigone's strong will allows her to openly confront Creon's superiority. Thus, the conclusions or denouements of the plays are to some extent different; while Nora survives in theoretical 'perfect freedom' in her society, Antigone is given death, and in a way 'frees' herself from the repressive society in which she has been subjected to.
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