A Doll's House And The Chrysanthemums Analysis

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Throughout history, women have struggled to become equals with men. Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” share a theme to their readers: feminism. The two authors placed their female protagonists in male dominated worlds of the 19th Century Norway and 20th Century America. They used these characters to rebel against the passive role of woman during their time. This theme is promoted through the narration of Nora and Elisa’s marriages, an epiphany that arose from initial disappointment in a male dominated society, and the use of symbolism throughout both works. Nora and Elisa were both participants in marriages that Steinbeck and Ibsen depict as oppressed and male-dominated. Both protagonists were placed in marriages that, on the surface, appeared to be true but underneath, Steinbeck and Ibsen gave a totally different message. A marriage is defined as a union between two equals. In the case of these two marriages, the women are anything but equals to their spouses. During the time that these two works were written, women were given a very limited role in a marriage. This role included the woman staying at home, tending to their husband’s needs, and taking care of their children. In A Doll’s House, Nora’s “whole life is a construct of societal norms and the expectations of others” (Wiseman). Throughout the whole play, Nora is controlled by Torvald and never is capable of making her own decisions. She continuously tried to be a “perfect” wife, but instead of being treated like a wife, Torvald treated her like a child, controlling her every move. Torvald was even found “having to restrain Nora with rules, much as a father would have to inhibit a child” when he forbade her from eating macaroons and... ... middle of paper ... ...symbolism. Ibsen and Steinbeck both convey their disapproving opinions of feminism through these two works. Both authors wanted woman to be treated as equals with men, whereas the society they lived in was a patriarchy where “men are the center, [and] women are the margin” (Skredsvig). While both characters were faced with similar struggles as a result of the male dominated society, each character responded very differently. To their downfall, most women of the time probably would have responded as Elisa did and would have lived their lives in virtual servitude, while very few women would have responded as Nora did to stand up against their domineering husband. Thankfully, those few strong women, with the help from anti-feministic citizens like Ibsen and Steinbeck, did stand up for themselves and helped pioneer a more equal male-female society that endures today.

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