Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are set in similar time period and feature protagonists who go through different struggles, but whose themes have some overlap. Honesty is a theme that is played out in both stories resulting in opposite consequences for the protagonists. The power of honesty can either hurt or enhance lives. The truth means ruination in Nora and Torvald’s marriage in A Doll’s House whereas the truth brings Elizabeth and Darcy together in Pride and Prejudice. Honesty in both male and female protagonists is equally important in forging good relationships between each other. In both stories, strong honesty shapes the two couples’ fates.
Both novels begin with the dishonesty of female protagonists – one who has lied to her husband for eight years and one who keeps denying to herself her feelings about a man. Nora, the female protagonist of A Dolls’ House, seems happy about her marriage to Torvald. She does not seem to mind Torvald treating and patronizing her like a doll. However, Ibsen foreshadows Nora’s dishonesty with the very first word on the first page of the play: “Hide the Christmas tree away…(1)”, and Nora’s action is eating macaroons and lying to Torvald about it. She also acts like an impulsive and dependent child to Torvald as if she is hiding something, which is her knowledge of her business details – debt – that she acquired to loan in order to save Torvald’s life. Elizabeth, the female protagonist of Pride and Prejudice, is a young, intelligent woman whose virtue and independence enable her to overcome the bounds of social class and harsh society. However, her course of making rash and imprudent judgment often leads to her failure: she prejudged Darcy’s personality as the most “proud and conceited (11)” after only meeting him once. She hated everything about him based only on her prejudgment. As a result, she was not able to admit her inner affection toward him and kept denying her true feelings...
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