A Comparison of Mrs. Alving and Nora Helmer

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Henrick Ibsen was a phenomenal playwright that wrote of two very unique women. Not only are they great characters, they are women characters set in a 19th century time period. These two ladies are Nora Helmer from A Doll's House, and Mrs. Alving from "Ghosts." Ibsen's goals were to make the public aware of the discrimination against women and to question the morality of the middle class. Both of these protagonists have similarities as leading roles, but there are also quite a bit of differences in their characters.

Both Helmer and Alving live in the middle class society level. They have (or in Alving's case, had) wealthy husbands who treated them in an inferior manner. Both women are expected to stay home and watch over the children and look nice. In both cases, both of the women have different plans in mind. Helmer is a young woman with three children and a husband about to made manager of the bank. She is almost treated as a small child. This is shown on page four of A Doll's House, where Helmer's husband, Torvald says, "Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?…That is like a woman!…What is this! Is my little squirrel out of temper?" This quotation shows that he feels that she couldn't handle the responsibility of money and that she is to be babied like one of his children. This is different from the household of Alving. She reflects about her husband and states, "I have suffered a good deal in this house. To keep him at home in the evening-and at night-I have had to play the part of boon companion in his secret drinking-bouts in his room up there. I have had to sit there alone with him, have had to hobnob and drink with him, have had to listen to his ribald senseless talk, have had to fight with brute force to get him to bed… (Ibsen, 92)." Obviously, Alving and Helmer were expected to have different levels of responsibility. Although this does not mean they have different levels of responsibility. With that thought in mind, both characters are...
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