In Chopin's The Awakening and Ibsen's A Doll House, the main characters each experience an awakening. Although they lead different lives, Nora Helmer and Edna Pontellier's respective awakenings are caused by similar factors. From the beginning, neither character fits the standard stereotype of women in the society in which they lived. Another factor that influences Nora and Edna's awakenings is their marital relationship. Neither Nora nor Edna are treated as an equal by their husband. When each woman realizes that she is unhappy, she understands that she must leave her position and role in life in order to fully find herself.
Nora and Edna are not perfect models of the late nineteenth century woman. Women in this time period were under the control of either a father or a husband. Each woman was expected to become a wife and mother. Both Edna and Nora have nurses to care for their children, taking over the role of mother. In The Awakening, Edna is described as a woman who is "not a mother-woman" (Chopin 10). During the summer at Grand Isle, the other mother-women watch their children carefully, clothe them, bathe them, and take care of them. Unlike the others, Edna walks the beach while her children are being protected by their nurse. Edna's sentiments toward her children are best described in Chopin's narrative: "She was fond of her children in an uneven impulsive way. She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would sometimes forget them" (24).
In A Doll House, Anne-Marie is the nurse who watches over Nora and Torvald's three children. Anne-Marie is more of a mother to the children than Nora is. For example, when the...
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...ad to their respective awakenings. Edna and Nora are not typical nineteenth century women in respect to their roles as mother and wife. They both have marriages in which true love does not exist. Later, each must leave her life to discover the woman who lies hidden inside.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym et al. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1985.
Durbach, Errol. A Doll's House: Ibsen's Myth of Transformation. Boston: Twayne, 1991.
Ewell, Barbara C. Kate Chopin. New York: Ungar, 1986
Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House. Dover Thrift Edition, 1992
Martin, Wendy, ed. "Introduction." New Essays on The (Awakening. New York, NY: Cambridge UP, 1988.
Templeton, Joan. "The Doll House Backlash: Criticism, Feminism, and Ibsen." PMLA (January 1989): 28-40.
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