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Antigone And A Doll’s House: Women In Patriarchal Societies

1218 words - 5 pages

”Women have been taught that, for us, the earth is flat, and that if we venture out, we will fall of the edge”(Kramarae, Treichler). This notion is exemplified through both novels, Antigone by Sophocles, and A Doll’s House by Leo Tolstoy. Both novels provide a different look at women, with the two main characters showing qualities that weren’t common in this era such as determination, intelligence, rebellion, hubris, and stubbornness.
In both novels, Antigone and Nora show extraordinary determination and courage despite society’s attempts to suppress them. For example, Antigone goes against the king’s orders without her sister’s support. Her act of rebellion is clearly looked down upon by society, this can be shown when Ismene tells her “Remember we are women, we’re not born to contend with men. Then too, we’re underlings, ruled by much stronger hands, so we must submit in this, and things still worse.”(Sophocles,18). This quote goes to show that Ismene felt Antigone was out of her place and attempting to fix things that were out of her control. However, against her sister’s will and advice Antigone decides to continue forward with her brother’s illegal burial stating, “Even if I die in the act, that death will be a glory”(Sophocles, 18). Antigone’s determination and strength as a woman shines through in this scene, simply due to to the fact that she did what was right when nobody else had the courage to do it their self. On the other hand, Nora not only goes against society’s beliefs, but also her family and friends. Undoubtedly, Nora’s decision saved her husbands life, but if the truth were to come out all that she did would be looked over due to the fact that she didn’t inform her husband. At this time, women weren’t generally associated with making money, which is why the notion that Nora had been paying off a loan and working small jobs was absurd to others. Throughout the novel, there are a number of instances where characters admit that neither Antigone nor Nora is in the wrong but due to societal views, these characters refuse to say so. In Antigone the chorus predicts Creon’s downfall stating “the city casts out that man who weds himself to inhumanity thanks to reckless daring”(Sophocles, 27). The chorus is referring to the binding between the laws of the land and the justice of the gods, that of which Creon is openly defying (Sophocles, 27). Despite the chorus and the city disagreeing with Creon and his decisions, they allow it to continue on in fear of his power and wrath, something Antigone was not intimidated by. Overall, evidence of Nora and Antigone’s strength as women in a patriarchal society is exemplified throughout both novels.
To add to that, during this time period women were thought to be inferior & less intelligent than men but both Antigone and Nora go against this belief. For instance, Nora’s decision to take out a loan without her husband’s knowledge was looked down upon when in all truth it was an intelligent...

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