The Use of Children in Anna Karenina and a Doll's House

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Children can be used for many things in literature, such as developing atmosphere and characterization. Leo Tolstoy, author of Anna Karenina and Henrik Ibsen, author of A Doll’s House use children in their novels for characterization of adult characters, to create atmosphere and parallel an adult character’s situation in society. This paper will examine how children are used by Leo Tolstoy in his novel, Anna Karenina, and by Henrik Ibsen in his play, A Doll’s House.

Both Ibsen and Tolstoy use children for the characterization of adult characters. In A Doll’s House, Ibsen uses the idea that children are like their parents to reflect Nora’s character. The relationship between Nora and her children reveals and refines her character. The first time Ibsen does this is through the words of Torvald, Nora’s husband. He says, “[Nora,] you are an odd soul […] very like your father. You always find some new way of wheedling money out of me, and as soon as you have got it it seems to melt in your hands” ( Ibsen 4). In this quote, Ibsen uses Torvald’s point of view to accurately describe Nora. Ibsen also uses Nora’s children to reflect Nora’s childish character. The children show their immaturity when Ibsen writes “The children all talk at once while she speaks to them”. This quote shows how childish the children are but also emphasizes Nora’s childish character because the children act quite a bit like Nora acts around Torvald. Therefore, one of the effects of the use of children in A Doll’s House is characterization. Leo Tolstoy uses children in his novel for a similar effect, but the way he uses children in his novel for characterization is different. Instead of reflecting an adult character’s personality through a child, Tolstoy uses the interactions between a child and a character to achieve characterization. One character that is developed with this method is Levin. In part three, Levin visits the Oblonsky’s country home and, during this scene, his interaction...
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