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Sacrafices To Social Appearances: A Comparative Analysis Between Kate Chopin's The Awakening And Henrik Iben's A Doll's House.

1523 words - 6 pages

Sacrifices and compromises are necessary in life. However, making grave sacrifices that force changes in lifestyle just to keep up social appearances can make life unbearable. Its is through the characters of Edna Pontellier and Nora Helmer, who both play false roles in their lives, which are void of true satisfaction, that we see the tremendous consequences of losing integrity in trying to fill social appearances. It is just the opposite for those like Leonce Pontellier and Torvald Helmer, who are both seemingly willing to sacrifice it all for social appearances, even the women whom they love. Through presenting the sacrifices that their main characters make or refuse to make for the sake of social appearances, Kate Chopin and Henrik Ibsen illuminate humanity's far-reaching struggle with society.Although Nora is, herself, concerned with maintaining social appearances, she later realizes how much of her life has been wasted as she has allowed it to be ruled by her husband and his societal convictions. Nora has been playing the part of a doll, which as she says, "was simply transferred" from her father to Torvald, never given the opportunity to take care of herself or determine the path of her own life, making nothing of her life (Ibsen 66). A doll is something that is admired for its beauty and has nothing else to offer except its outward appearances, which is why the title of the play, A Doll's House, holds much significance. Nora has never felt satisfied spending her days keeping up the appearance of the perfect doll's house and always dressing up for others, like her husband, while never doing anything for herself, for her own happiness. When Nora tells Torvald that she is "taking off [her] fancy dress", she means that she is finished dressing up for other people and that from now on she must fulfill the duties to herself and try to better herself (Ibsen 64). Furthermore, it is through the constant references to dolls and childishness that Ibsen emphasizes how until her awakening, Nora has been playing a role all her life, allowing her father and her husband to control what direction it takes. As Nora slams the door on her husband and her sham of a marriage, she is symbolically slamming the door on society and the social appearances to which she has given up most of her life. Nora has lost herself in trying to keep up the social appearance of the perfect wife and mother and it is only by leaving her family behind that she can begin to rediscover her true identity.Much like Nora before her awakenings, Edna also played the role of the submissive wife and nurturing mother, however, Edna later seeks to rekindle the passionate life of her youth, which she sacrificed when she married Leonce. Although Edna does not spend a great deal of time with her children, the time she does spend with them is filled with devotion, with Edna "giving them (the children) all of herself, and gathering and filling herself with their young existence" (Chopin 95). Edna...

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