The characters of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House and Hedda Gabler have problems relating to and surrounding their feelings towards the expectations presented to them by their society. The motivation behind their actions denote a fear of losing their respectability and status in their towns while implying a desire to be free of the expectations on them. The looming punishment of losing reputation and credibility in a community forces the characters in these plays to tiptoe around each other while trying to gain an upper hand and not be exposed in a possible scandal. The character’s actions are driven by a fear of losing respect in the community, being deemed disgraceful by neighbors, and damaging the character they have been building in the eyes of the public.
A public scandal can damage a person’s reputation and undermine institutions. In the case of Henrik Ibsen’s plays A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler, the two main female characters have their own reputations to worry about. Nora Helmer and Hedda Gabler are two characters who are similar in their actions, but the motivations behind them differ slightly. Nora is involved in a scandalous situation because of a crime committed on behalf of her family. Hedda is not directly involved in any wrongdoing, she is only an accomplice to a potential scandal. However, both women are terrified of the consequences of these situations. Not only do they have reputations that could be damaged but they have husbands, and in Nora’s case, children, to think about. There is considerable pressure on Nora and Hedda to keep up appearances as devoted wives, as society would have them portrayed. The problem these women have is that the “vigilant wife” stereotype does not give them the separate and personal i...
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... so he felt that he turned out to be a bad person. This statement has the biggest impact on Nora than anything else that has happened to this point. As a mother of three and a self-proclaimed “spendthrift,” Nora begins to question her parenting ability. She may not expressly state that she is leaving for the sake of her family, but it is one of the factors that contribute to her departure. In the final moments of the play, she tells Torvald, “When a wife deserts her husband’s house, as I’m doing now, I’ve heard that the law frees him from any responsibility to her. And anyway, I’m freeing you. From everything” (Gainor, 247). Nora is attempting to distance herself from her family in order to give them a proper life without any consequences of her actions forced upon them. She is sacrificing her own reputation for her children, just as she wanted Torvald to do for her.
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