Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

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Societal appearance and acceptance is an utmost characteristic an average individual tends to underestimate. It may seem as if individual morals go against the social appearance, but in value, individuals perceive a need for an appearance to convey a sense of belonging. Within two diverse yet similarly realist drama's, A Doll’s House and Death of a Salesman societal appearance’s stands above all else. Henrick Ibsen's A Doll's House embarks on the gender fitting and domesticity of the Victorian Era at its worse as Nora Helmer's unrealistic marriage falls within her grasps, leading to rebellion. Arthur Miller, on the other hand, sets forth the "tragedy of the common man" through the tragic hero of Willy Loman and the “American Dream” in Death of a Salesman (Shmoop Editorial Team 4). In comparison, Nora and Willy follow the ethics society put forth, but in contrast, Nora’s will leads to rebellion, whereas Willy’s dramatizing deprivation leads to conformity.

Through Nora, Ibsen makes it obvious that the atmosphere springs out of influence from the Victorian Era. Domesticity stood as a central theme, gender division stood as common field. Gender fitted, women were placed with the responsibility of the children and the household. In addition to the domestic role, women were expected to be completely submissive to their husbands (Shmoop Editorial Team 1). Nora perfectly fit the societal aspects of what was expected during the time. Her complete devotion to Helmer makes it clear that she is recognizing him as the dominating figure and degrading her own position as his wife. Within the start of the play, Ibsen describes Nora as she secretively eats cookies from her husband. Helmer states: “Hasn’t Miss Sweet-Tooth be...

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...used her to awaken and realize her surroundings. With Helmer’s last words of blame toward her, she realized that the relationship did not include her as a wife nor partner. Instead of being fully submissive and devoted toward her husband, Nora rebels against society’s ideals and chooses herself over the dominancy of her husband. Unlike Nora, Willy choose to give up his life in hope that once he has died, his dream would succeed through his sons. How society and how he left society stood above all else for him, but what Willy did not realize that he conformed to society’s perceived appearance of the American dream and took it with him. The images and stereotypical atmosphere society sets for the individual plays into thought, but it is the individual’s responsibility to control and maintain the appearance, to personalize it as their own rather than imitate it.
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