Comparing the Escape Theme in Raise the Red Lantern, Handmaid's Tale, and Doll's House
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Raise the Red Lantern, The Handmaid's Tale, A Doll's House: Freedom Through Escape
Women have suffered as the result of harassment and discrimination for centuries. Today, women are able to directly confront their persecutors through the news media as well as the legal system. Three important literary works illustrate that it has not always been possible for women to strike back. In Raise the Red Lantern, The Handmaid's Tale, and A Doll's House, the main female characters find ways to escape their situations rather than directly confronting the problem.
Songlian, the main character in the foreign film Raise the Red Lantern, finds unusual ways of dealing with her oppression. For example, Songlian often takes her stress out on her maid, Yan'er. Whenever Songlian feels the need to relieve her tension, she screams at Yan'er. Songlian's treatment towards her maid results in a bitter rivalry between the two and ultimately leads to the death of Yan'er. Instead of expressing herself publicly, Songlian chooses to keep her emotions bottled up or take them out on Yan'er. Another example of this concept occurs when Songlian becomes intoxicated. Due to her unfortunate situation, Songlian chooses to drink an enormous amount of alcohol on her birthday. In her mind, she feels that she has nothing to look forward to in life. So Songlian escapes real life by drinking. This is yet another example of Songlian's feeble attempt to escape her troubles. Furthermore, Songlian's outlook on life becomes so bleak that she literally goes insane. Since she witnessed the death of the third mistress, she confirms her fear that there is no escaping her situation. Thus, she drives herself crazy. Therefore, we can see that Songlian uses techniques to try and escape her fate.
The next work, entitled A Doll's House, deals with Nora, the main character, struggling to achieve happiness in life. While Nora lives with her husband, Torvald, she pretends to be happy and satisfied with life, but in reality, Nora lacks purpose in her life. For eight years, she never discusses her situation with Torvald because she does not want to face the truth about herself. Nora feels obligated to live her life as a caring mother and an obedient wife. Also, Nora pretends to be happy for a reason. Whether she knows it or not, Nora tries to be the ideal wife and mother by letting herself be governed by the laws of society.