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Breaking Away From Society: “A Doll’s House” And “Trifles”

1698 words - 7 pages

Modern interpretations of “A Doll’s House” and “Trifles” portray that these dramas are solely works of feminism, when in fact they address a more important issue of the time: marriage ideals. During this time, marriages were nothing but a masquerade. Husbands and wives hid behind their commitment, and were overly focused on the appearances and opinions of society. Society played a key role in the formation of the attitudes and opinions of marriage in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. “A Doll’s House” by Ibsen was written in 1879 and focuses on the problems within the traditional marriage of the time. “Trifles” was written several years later in 1916 by Susan Glaspell and was also a story that brought the issues with marriage ideals to the forefront. Both of these plays were meant to convince people to start questioning society and to bring forth issues that were being ignored.
“A Doll’s House” was written by Ibsen not only to bring attention to the suppression of women, but to bring attention to the other problematic aspects of marriage in the late 1800’s. Since the play was first performed in 1879 in Copenhagen, there was debate about the way that Ibsen portrayed the nature of the Helmer’s marriage (McFarland-Wilson, Knapp 140). Throughout the entire Western World in the 20th Century, the position of not only women, but the nature of marriage was up in the air. Ibsen was not a feminist; he was a realist, who loved to point out the injustices in society (Kashdan). Ibsen’s character clearly explains why he chose to center his writing on the overall picture of marriage, not just the neglect and unfair treatment that the women received.
Throughout “A Doll’s House”, we the readers get a glimpse into the reality of Torvald and Nora’s marriage. The majority of the insights we get are not be huge, but even the most minor instances are proof of the problems with marriages in the late 1800’s. The point being made is that a marriage will only be able to flourish and grow if both husband and wife treat each other equally. Equality is the aspect which is most lacked not only in Torvald and Nora’s marriage, but in their entire family system. Their marriage is strained mostly because of Torvald’s inability to see the wrong in society. Torvald treats Nora as if she were a young child. He patronizes her by calling her nicknames such as, “Little Miss Sweet Tooth”, “little pigheaded miss”, and “my little featherbrain”. (Ibsen 1602, 1599, 1625). While some may argue that Torvald’s patronizing and demeaning attitude is the sole cause of the deterioration of their marriage, the real reason behind the fall out is a collection of much deeper issues. From early on in the story we can tell that there are more problems with their marriage than Nora leads on. When Nora sees her old friend Mrs. Linde, she acts as if her life is going perfectly as planned. Nora brags about her husband exclaiming, “Just imagine, my husband’s been appointed manager of the bank!” (Ibsen...

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