Antigone and a Doll’s House: Women in Patriarchal Societies

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”Women have been taught that, for us, the earth is flat, and that if we venture out, we will fall of the edge”(Kramarae, Treichler). This notion is exemplified through both novels, Antigone by Sophocles, and A Doll’s House by Leo Tolstoy. Both novels provide a different look at women, with the two main characters showing qualities that weren’t common in this era such as determination, intelligence, rebellion, hubris, and stubbornness.

In both novels, Antigone and Nora show extraordinary determination and courage despite society’s attempts to suppress them. For example, Antigone goes against the king’s orders without her sister’s support. Her act of rebellion is clearly looked down upon by society, this can be shown when Ismene tells her “Remember we are women, we’re not born to contend with men. Then too, we’re underlings, ruled by much stronger hands, so we must submit in this, and things still worse.”(Sophocles,18). This quote goes to show that Ismene felt Antigone was out of her place and attempting to fix things that were out of her control. However, against her sister’s will and advice Antigone decides to continue forward with her brother’s illegal burial stating, “Even if I die in the act, that death will be a glory”(Sophocles, 18). Antigone’s determination and strength as a woman shines through in this scene, simply due to to the fact that she did what was right when nobody else had the courage to do it their self. On the other hand, Nora not only goes against society’s beliefs, but also her family and friends. Undoubtedly, Nora’s decision saved her husbands life, but if the truth were to come out all that she did would be looked over due to the fact that she didn’t inform her husband. At this time, women weren’t generall...

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..., and that they say so in the books. But henceforth I cant be satisfied with what most people say, I must think things out for myself”(Ibsen, 199). This goes to show that women actually were people that could fend and think for their selves. Nevertheless, Antigone showed Antigone’s hubris as a weakness where as in A Doll’s House Nora’s was shown in a more empowering way to women.

In short, both novels Antigone and A Doll’s House gave a different view on women during these time periods, showing that they could be intelligent, strong, determined, and loving when necessary. Each author focused in on patriarchal societies yet made women the focal point of the story. Through these two novels, readers are able to see some of the struggles women have faced up until this day although there is a much more positive light shone on the women and their decisions than before.
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