A Doll House and Ghosts – Compare/ Contrast

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Men often entrap females into oppressive roles in society. In Henrik Ibsen's A Doll House, Torvald Helmer treats his wife Nora as a doll; whereas in Ghosts, Pastor Manders believes Mrs. Alving should be a trophy wife and protect her dead husband's reputation. Both Torvald and Manders brainwash Nora and Mrs. Alving, respectively, to behave according to what their own expectations. Because Nora and Mrs. Alving are afraid to cross the expectations of Torvald and Manders, they both hide their true feelings, causing their pasts to creep up on them and forcing them to face reality.

Before her secret comes to light, Nora lives under the total control of her husband Torvald in which she does not truly understand herself or her family. Even when eating macaroons, Nora assures Torvald, "You know I could never think of going against you" (A Doll House 1242). Nora is a doll, a helpless little "lark", a "songbird", and over the course of their relationship, Nora has been molded into thinking she must be all those and does not want Torvald to think otherwise (A Doll House 1242). Because helpless songbirds did not save lives on their own, Nora could not let Torvald find out about her use of forgery to obtain money, because it would hurt his "masculine pride" and "just ruin… [their] relationship" (A Doll House 1248). Likewise, in Ghosts, Manders, a close friend and someone Mrs. Alving has cared for, repeatedly stresses to her the importance of doing her "duty" which is to "cleave to the man you had chosen and to whom you were bound by a sacred bond" (Ghosts 89). When Mrs. Alving fends for herself about the time she ran away from her husband because of his misconducts, Manders tells her that, "it is not a wife's part to be her husband's judge" (Ghosts 89). Because of her perceived duties as a wife to hide her husband's misdeeds, Mrs. Alving tries to hide her husband's infidelity from to her son Oswald.

Until the actual event, Nora fantasizes that her hero Torvald will come to...
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