A Comparison of a Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen and the Awakening

Check out more papers on A Doll's House

A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen and The Awakening by Kate Chopin are both prime examples of literary works well ahead of their time. Each work depicts the rigid social standards placed on women and how they negatively affected them. They also show how the women were able to triumph over these social standards and reach a life of greater fulfillment. Ibsen and Chopin appear to consciously present their main characters in this way and use their talents for writing to predict a change in society that needs to and will eventually occur.

A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen investigates the tensions of family life. Written during the Victorian era, the controversial play featuring a female protagonist seeking individuality stirred up a fair amount of controversy. A Doll's House introduced a woman as having her own purpose and goals. The heroine of the play, Nora Helmer, progresses during the course of the play and eventually realizes that she must discontinue the role of a doll and seek out her individuality. Ibsen appears to have intended to present a new way of looking at the role of women in society. It seems that he has consciously done this, for the depiction of Nora is such that it could not have been created without effort and thought. Ibsen was indeed ahead of his time, and perhaps writing a play about this sentiment towards women was a ploy to gain attention, or possibly it was his way to share his views of women with the cultured public.

Definite characteristics of the woman's subordinate role in a relationship are emphasized through Nora's contradictory actions. Her infatuation with luxuries such as expensive Christmas gifts contradicts her resourcefulness in scrounging and buying cheap. Clothing: Nora's defiance of Torvald by eating the forbidden macaroons contradicts the submission of her opinions, including the decision of which costume to wear. These occurrences emphasize the facets of a relationship in which women play a dependent role: finance, power, and love. Ibsen draws the reader's attention to these examples to highlight the overall subordinate role that a woman plays compared to that of her husband. The character of Nora is not only important in describing the role of women but also in emphasizing the impact of this role on a woman. Nora's childlike manner is evident through her minor acts of disobedience and lack of responsibility. She has been spoon-fed everything she has needed in life. Never having to think for herself has caused her to become dependent on others.

This dependency has grown into a social standard. When Nora is forced to confront reality after the threat she receives from Doctor Rank regarding her forgery of her father's signature, she is unable to comprehend the severity of her actions. In A Doll's House, Ibsen predicts the change from the role of women as subordinates to individuals who can stand on their own two feet. During the final scene of the play, Nora is gradually forced to realize what reality is. Her husband finally shares the outside world with her, and she begins to realize that her entire life has been a fabrication for the sake of society. Nora's decision to leave her home is directly symbolic of a woman's ultimate realization.

Kate Chopin in The Awakening also makes a woman the protagonist of her story. Chopin appears to have purposefully woven together this web of a woman's struggle to become her own independent woman, just as Ibsen did. It was the unwritten rule that a woman should marry, have children, and be happy and content with that as her life. A woman should act and look proper at all times. This is what Edna, the main character of the novel, is fighting so diligently against. After spending the summer at Grand Isle, Edna becomes dissatisfied with society's expectations of her life and wishes to erase them and live her life according to her own rules. It was so very rare for a woman to feel as though she needed to break away from everything that she had known and pursue her own dreams and desires in the 1890s. Edna was truly a remarkable character. Her fight for independence against a social world that shows no mercy was a courageous task in which she engaged that captured the hearts of the readers.

Isben and Chopin each, through their controversial works, had an impact on society's view of the subordinate position of women. By describing this role of women, discussing its effects, and predicting a change in contemporary views, they stressed the importance of women's realization of this believed inferiority. Women should no longer be seen as the shadow of men but as a person in themselves with their own triumphs and tragedies. Their exploration of Edna and Nora reveals that they depend upon others, and their progression of understanding suggests a woman's future ability to comprehend their plight. The shocking endings only reinforce the massive amount of drastic change needed, and The Awakening and A Doll's House magnificently illustrate the need for and a prediction of this change.

Did you like this example?

Cite this page

A Comparison of A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen and the Awakening. (2023, Mar 07). Retrieved May 22, 2024 , from

Save time with Studydriver!

Get in touch with our top writers for a non-plagiarized essays written to satisfy your needs

Get custom essay

Stuck on ideas? Struggling with a concept?

A professional writer will make a clear, mistake-free paper for you!

Get help with your assignment
Leave your email and we will send a sample to you.
Stop wasting your time searching for samples!
You can find a skilled professional who can write any paper for you.
Get unique paper

I'm Amy :)

I can help you save hours on your homework. Let's start by finding a writer.

Find Writer