How do both playwright’s present women and their attitudes towards marriage in the two plays?
Both playwrights present women and their attitudes towards marriage differently due to their contextual constraints. Both Ibsen and Shakespeare present two very different women in each of their plays. As Ibsen’s play was written in the nineteenth century compared to Shakespeare’s in the seventeenth century, you could see the developments in the women in A Doll’s House. Also, as Shakespeare was English and Ibsen Norwegian, they have different views on love and marriage, which they present in the plays.
In Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing, love is a key theme. Various types of love are shown and developed in the play. The audience are presented with courtly love, true love and fraternal love. The various attitudes of love portrayed in Much Ado About Nothing make it easier for the audience to relate to. It also shows that you don’t need to have high status to be able to feel true love. This is shown between Beatrice and Benedick’s absolute and true love for each other as Beatrice doesn’t have a high status in society. This is different to modern time as people of any status and any class can have true love and it isn’t thought of as indifferent by others in society, whereas at the time of the play in the 16th century, it was only known for people of a high class and a high society status to fall in love truly and absolute.
The irony of this is that although the high characters experience love, it is not true love as they only met through the rules of courtship, a very staged and stagnant form of romance. The staged and insincere love is evidenced through the characters of Claudio and Hero. Importance of status is also shown in A Doll’s House when Nora flirts with Doctor Rank; “and you can imagine I am doing it all for you”. This shows her power over him as he is a dying man and she knows that he loves her, therefore this shows her higher status and power over him. The repetition of ‘you’ shows her focus on him and how she is manipulating him. This presents her in a self-centred way as she is enjoying her power over a man who is dying. Her attitude to love is also sickening as she uses his love for her to give herself a higher status.
Beatrice is the symbol of the unconventional lover. Her view towards marriage changes during the course of the play. Beatrice falls in love with Benedick and marries him at the end of the play.
Benedick and Beatrice’s love for each other develops with time as the play continues. They are very insulting to each other at the start of the play yet they both drop compliments at the same time. Beatrice says “you had musty victual, and he that holp to eat it: he is a very valiant trencher-man; he hath an excellent stomach.” This shows how Beatrice is insulting Benedick and she is stating that men are more concerned with words than being a man, insisting Benedick isn’t a man. This was a very different female attitude portrayed in the play at the time it was written, as women weren’t seen to have any power and insult men, especially men with status in society. This shows the strong-willed character of Beatrice. The use of “valiant” shows how she feels he is brave and shows her desire for Benedick without her fully admitting her love for him. “He hath an excellent stomach” shows how Beatrice is attracted to Benedick and the reference to sex shows she has feelings for him. The use of ‘stomach’ also shows how Benedick has a lot of passion and love and that he isn’t focused on fighting compared to the other men such as Claudio. This is similar to Mrs Linde and Krogstad when she says “two on the same piece of wreckage would stand a better chance than on their own”. This shows how they are both not in a very good place but they have each other to hold on to. This could show how Ibsen is trying to present the union of Krogstad and Mrs Linde of being the most wonderful thing of all through...
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