Women's Roles in Antigone and A Doll's House

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In the plays Antigone and A Doll's House, the playwrights discuss gender roles and how they relate to the characters in each individual play. Antigone, by Sophocles, follows a young girl who defies a law issued by King Creon against burying her brother, who fought against their town in the recent war. Creon orders her to be executed, but she ends up committing suicide. In A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, a wife named Nora takes out a loan by herself, unacceptable for a woman during that time period, and tries to appease the lender who threatens to reveal her loan. In the end, Nora's husband, Torvald, finds out about the loan and Nora ends up leaving him. In each of these plays, Sophocles and Ibsen offer insight into the problems faced by women who are independent, stubborn, and brave. In each of these plays, the protagonist is a woman who has a very independent mindset, but is limited by society in how much she is able to do for herself. For example, after Antigone buries Polynices, she tries to defend what she did to Creon. However, he refuses to listen to her because he doesn’t want to seem like he would listen to a woman (Sophocles 37). His refusal shows that men are supposed to be dominant over women and a man who listens to a woman is not masculine. It also represents the idea that during this time period, women have no valuable opinion. Additionally, in A Doll’s House, Nora is criticized for taking out the loan on her own, like when Mrs. Linden says, “Why, a wife can’t borrow without her husband’s consent!" (Ibsen 151). This criticism demonstrates the idea that women are unable to make their own decisions and decide things for themselves. It also shows the belief that only men have the sense to make a business deal, and w... ... middle of paper ... ...n he tried to intimidate her earlier and that she would be so bold to his face. The criticism faced by the characters in the plays demonstrate the idea that women are inferior to men and should not speak out for themselves. Each play represents the issues faced by each gender during the time period in which it was written. However, many of the issues are similar in each time period, as well as throughout most of history. These issues will likely continue to affect both women and men for a long time in the future. Works Cited Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll's House. World Literature: An Anthology of Great Short Stories, Poetry, and Drama. Columbus, Ohio: McGraw Hill Glencoe, 2004. 140-202. Print. Sophocles. Antigone. World Literature: A Anthology of Great Short Stories, Poetry, and Drama. Columbus, Ohio: McGraw Hill Glencoe, 2004. 14-57. Print.
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