• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare the relationship between Torvald and Nora in A Dolls House with that of Angel and Tess in Tess of the Durbervilles

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Compare the relationship between Torvald and Nora in A Doll's House with that of Angel and Tess in Tess of the D'urbervilles Both Henrik Ibsen and Thomas Hardy were groundbreaking authors in the Victorian era, portraying female protagonists as becoming materially and emotionally independent from their male partners. Their depictions of the breakdown of a marriage in their respective works were controversial at the time of publication, but highlight the hypocrisy of the patriarchal Victorian society. The key relationships in each work are fraught with tension, dealing with the men's rejection of their wives and their insistence that societal pressure is more important than love. Both men fall short of their wives' idealistic hopes by rejecting them after their 'crimes' are revealed: although Torvald's "salvation" and attempted reconciliation are played out on a much smaller timescale than Angel's eventual return to his wife, both authors depict the women as morally and emotionally superior to their insincere husbands. A key feature of both relationships is idealism. From the very first scene where Nora "pops the bag of macaroons in her pocket and wipes her mouth", the secrecy and illusion which keep the Helmers' marriage alive is apparent. The macaroons, a running motif throughout the play, symbolise Nora's childishness and her small acts of rebellion against Torvald's paternal role in their marriage. Many symbols of this idealistic fa�ade appear in A Doll's House, including Nora's Italian fancy dress costume which she takes off at the end to represent the ending of the charade. ...read more.

Middle

"Artemis" in particular was the Roman goddess of purity, representing Angel's high regard for Tess' supposed maidenhood and the importance he places on it, which also foreshadows his reaction to her eventual confession. Another key similarity between the two relationships is how the women overestimate the strength of their husbands' characters. Nora believes that Torvald will "step forward and take all the blame" of her crime, an event she terms a "miracle" and refers to in order to bolster herself whenever she fears her secret being revealed. The use of the abstract noun "miracle", with its religious connotations, suggests that Nora idolises Torvald as she would a deity, mirroring Tess' "idolatry" of Angel. Similarly, Tess fails to comprehend that it is entirely possible that Angel's feelings towards her could change, especially as he is so "frank and affectionate" towards her. Hardy further highlights her naivety and her childlikeness when she has a "sudden enthusiastic trust that he surely would forgive her", the pre-modifying adjectives "sudden" and "enthusiastic" demonstrating Tess' failure to grasp the seriousness of her predicament, and her inability to recognise the patriarchal bias of Victorian society when she becomes convinced that her history "'tis just the same" as Angel's "dissipation with a stranger". Both authors show the wives' unswerving trust in their husbands not only to gain sympathy, but to show that they are initially filling the role society provides for them: it is the men who let them down, rather than the women rebelling for no reason. ...read more.

Conclusion

Torvald mocks Nora further, rhetorically asking "How would it help me if you were gone from this world, as you put it?" Ibsen's use of the first person pronoun "me" in this interrogative makes it clear that Torvald is so self-absorbed that he only considers his wife's possible suicide in the way it would affect him. The two husbands continue to overreact and place disproportionate blame on their wives. Interestingly, both Torvald and Angel assume that their wives' less-than-honourable families passed on unattractive characteristics to them. Torvald's exclamation that Nora's "father's recklessness and instability he has handed on to you!" is a total overreaction and shows his lack of knowledge about Nora's real character and personality. Ibsen portrays Torvald as particularly hypocritical, given that he has had the biggest influence over Nora in her adult life and therefore should take some responsibility for her supposed character flaws. Even more unfairly, Angel uses Tess' sensitivity about her ancestors to justify what has happened to her, saying that "decrepit families imply decrepit wills, decrepit conduct". The adjective "decrepit" connotes death and ruin, suggesting that Tess is morally dead to him now. The aftermath of each situation is very different, however. The sudden change in Torvald's demeanour is not entirely realistic, but fits well with the pace of the scene and its melodramatic nature. Ibsen continues the religious semantic field with the passive verb "saved", relating to salvation and rescue from a hideous plight. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    He was moved from the Western desert to Tunis, then shipped to Italy. Because he could not be identified, and could hardly remember who he was, the British had a very difficult time trying to determine whether or not he was an enemy.

  2. Symbolism in The Joy Luck Club

    To make a marriage work both people have to work at it, but Harold is not as supportive as Lena is with him. The table is a symbol of his unaccommodating, unsupportive commitment Harold has with Lena. During the middle of a fight between Lena and Harold, the vase is shattered by Ying-Ying.

  1. How do the authors of 'The Bell Jar' and 'Surfacing' depict madness?

    Firstly, Plath's novel is permeated by a feeling of imprisonment, in particular represented as the bell jar that forms the title of the book. The bell jar itself represents Esther's suffocation, for the jar is supposed to preserve its ornamental content but instead traps them in stale air.

  2. Sex and Love in the Sorrow of War and the Unbearable Lightness of Being

    us a rather hollow liaison which, while heart-rendingly exquisite in its desperate purity, remains a hopeless what-could-have-been, infiltrating Kien's dreams even in adulthood. This sexless situation is unapparent in the Unbearable Lightness of Being; Tomas's libidinous nature perhaps preventing it even as a concept.

  1. Consider and evaluate the different ways in which the writers of A Doll's House ...

    In the beginning of the play Nora is reliant on Helmer which pleases him as he likes the idea of having someone who is so dependent on him. However, this allows her to act childishly with him in order of getting her own way.

  2. Compare and contrast the writers presentation of conflict and power between men and women ...

    However in ?King Lear?, the word ?nothing? is used metaphorically as no money or no love. The word ?nothing? is used in another sense in ?Tess of the D?Urbervilles?, ?look here; I won?t walk another inch with you if you say any jokes about him?, confirming Tess? loyalty towards her father, she proves ?nothing? in another meaning.

  1. Compare & Contrast The Way Women Are Portrayed In Hamlet, Wuthering Heights and A ...

    The fact that his deceased brother has only been dead two weeks, and he takes his wife really shows the fact that Claudius was more than capable of killing King Hamlet and is using Gertrude to show off his new found power as King.

  2. Why "The Catcher In The Rye" Was Controversial

    In any case of whether something should be banned or not, language should not be a factor. Over the years cursing is being thought of loosely, as an example, on the show Hannah Montana the main character Miley called another girl a ?dirty tramp? and no concern was brought to that.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work