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Limitations On Women In A Doll’s House And Antigone

1710 words - 7 pages

A recent study reported that 6.7% of the top earners of Fortune 500 Companies are women. This number can seem low and discouraging to modern eyes. However, this statistic would probably seem an unimaginable leap forward through the eyes of female characters in historical fiction. Henrik Ibsen, the author of A Doll’s House, offers a glimpse into the restrictions on women in the 1880’s, when the book was written. These include limited opportunities for expression, personal fulfillment, and free will in a male-dominated society. The same restrictions can be seen as early as 440 BC, when Antigone was written. Sophocles, the author of Antigone, goes into immense detail about not only the expectations and roles of women, but also the treatment of women. Both of these authors, Ibsen and Sophocles, show the hardships that many women have endured over the ages. Their literary works offer great insight into the characteristics of Nora and Antigone, the two main characters of the books, who are not only determined, but also independent and brave.
Throughout A Doll’s House and Antigone, By Ibsen and Sophocles respectively, the characters Nora and Antigone are both very independent, despite having been written nearly 2000 years apart. Without this characteristic, neither of these literary works would have been notable, as they are both based on the struggles faced by women during the time periods in which these works were written. In A Doll’s House, there are many times in which Nora portrays her independence to the Author. “From you I will accept nothing,” (Ibsen, 198). Nora says this while she is about to leave Torvald and she declines to take anything of his with her, truly showing her independence. Although in this modern age one may look at a quote like this and find nothing extraordinary about it, the social roles in the time period of the book differed greatly. Women were viewed as subordinate to men and incapable of taking care of themselves. A quote like this is extremely different that what was to be expected as the social norm. Just like Nora, Antigone is just as emotionally strong as she is a very independent woman as the following quote shows. “You chose to live, I chose to die,” (Sophocles, Line 33). This quote is said to Antigone’s sister, Ismene, when faced with execution for defying the king by burying their brother, who was proclaimed a traitor. This clearly shows Antigone’s dedication toward completing her task, a task that could not be completed without independence and incredible bravery, even in defiance of the king’s wishes. Such independence gives the reader a compelling reason to continue reading the story. Without the sense of independence that both Nora and Antigone have, each of the literary works would have been unremarkable. Independence serves as an enduring theme when writing about women due to the many struggles women remained challenged by throughout time. It is not only a theme that can be seen when Antigone was written,...

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