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

Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary both portray significant female characters.

Extracts from this document...


Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary both portray significant female characters. Both of these works show 19th Century women striving for freedom. These works reveal the problems women of this time had in trying to become equal with their male counterpart. Nora's happiness is seen through her time with her children while Emma's happiness is never seen as she experiences stressful relationships. The female protagonists seek their freedom through secrecy, children and relationships. Nora Helmer from A Doll's House and Emma Bovary from Madame Bovary are very secretive with their lives. Nora's secrets range from the hiding of the macaroons (59) to the loan for the sake of Torvald's health (54). This shows perhaps fear Nora may have with her husband. Nora best shows her secrecy with the clothes she wore for the masquerade party. Emma's secretive ways stem from her marriage to Charles. Emma hides her affairs with Leon and Rodolphe from an unsuspecting Charles. The affairs show what Emma would do for appreciation. Dramatic irony is expressed with the fact that Charles fails to realize of Emma's affairs until after her death. Children are another important issue in the women's lives. Nora shows that she really cares for her children unlike Emma. Nora buys Christmas gifts for her children and plays hide-and-seek with them (61). Nora uses money to buy things for her children rather than herself showing that she doesn't think just of herself. Nora tells her children "the strange man [Krogstad] won't hurt Mama" (62). Emma is seen as a character foil of Nora with the fact that she does not care for her child. Her hatred for her daughter first emerges when she hoped to have son. Having a son would anticipate "revenge for all her earlier helplessness" (101). Emma felt that a woman is held back and helpless. At the sight of her newborn, Emma faints as wish for a son doesn't come true (101). ...read more.


Emma doesn't really care when she shoves Berthe into a chest of drawers and causes her to cry (124). Berthe Bovary is even thought of as "ugly" by her mother (124). Emma spends money for her own being in Madame Bovary. This shows that she only cares herself and no one else. The holes in Berthe's stockings (272) show that Emma doesn't even care for her own child. The love Emma shows for her daughter reveals her mendacity, not real affection. Relationships are a very important component in the two works. Besides the relationships with their children, the women experience relationships with their adult counterparts. Friendship is a theme expressed in both works. Nora has a few friends while Emma's actions is a rationale for her not having friends. Nora's friends include Dr. Rank and Mrs. Linde. Nora, who contrasts from the two for not having an occupation, is able to sustain a friendship. Emma has her dismissal of women with the reasons coming from the differences she sees. Emma also doesn't have male friends with the fact that neither Leon nor Rodolphe really care about her while she believes they do. Women such as Madame Tuvache dislike women like Emma after witnessing her not being faithful to her husband. Tuvache even once claimed that Emma is "compromising herself" (104). The relationships with fathers had an impact on Nora and Emma's lives. Both women were unhappy in their relationships with their fathers. Nora's relationship with her father was best portrayed with her being a "doll" in his "doll house" (109). Emma's relationship with her father was not a good relationship either. Being able to leave her father was at some sense, happy for Emma until her marriage. Work is seen as an issue and also another type of relationship with the women as well. Both women's "work" came in the form of being a housewife. ...read more.


Emma's role of a housewife was different as she paid more attention to only herself than her own family. Both women also had maids in helping to keep the household running. The love lives of Nora and Emma determine the motives each character possessed. In A Doll's House, Torvald is seen giving Nora money from time to time. Nora seems truly happy with her marriage at first but it soon changes. At first Nora refers to herself as Torvald's "little squirrel" (77) and shows no frustration with the marriage. Nora also uses a loan she received to take the trip with Torvald. Nora also realizes that her and Torvald have been having an unsuccessful marriage by not having serious talks (108-9). The feelings of remaining a "doll-child" played an important role in Nora's decision (109-10). Nora hopes of the "miracle" (89-90, 93) never come and it results in her leaving her family. After Emma's marriage with Charles, Emma realized that she did not really love Charles to begin with. The wedding bouquet (53, 83-4) that Emma later destroys shows the disappointment in her marriage. To satisfy her needs, Emma engages in affairs with Leon. After Leon's departure, sorrow turns to happiness with a new affair with Rodolphe. Emma, who couldn't accept Charles and his personality, failed to realize how he really felt about her. Emma's death was an impact on Charles' later demise. Nora from A Doll's House and Emma from Madame Bovary are very strong female characters portrayed in literature. Happiness and freedom are the most important themes in both women's lives. Striving for happiness and freedom came at a costly price, with death as Emma's fate. Nora's happiness lies within her "miracle" of a better marriage. Nora always seems to be happy when she really is frustrated and unhappy. Emma never experiences happiness as her attempts fail and result in her death. The feminine struggle continues with the failed marriages and shows a strong message. The struggle reveals that not being equal can cause damage to the lives of people and their surroundings. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Jane Austen 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 GCSE Jane Austen essays

  1. Jane Austen's presentation of Emma as an unlikeable heroine

    would be entirely guided by your treatment of her.' This quotation shows that even Mr. Knightley, a man who always tells Emma the truth and doesn't treat Emma like the heroine she is, knows that she is looked up to by most people.

  2. The portrayal of desire in the novels Madame Bovary and the Kiss of the ...

    Molina yearns to experience the same kind of unrealistic love that Emma yearns because of the influence of romantic films that he watches. The exaggerated love that is portrayed in films has influenced Molina into believing that such love can exist.

  1. Scenes of Suicide - A Comparison between Madame Bovary and the awakening.

    Edna's fantasies are based on emotions that she has actually felt while Emma's stem from her boredom with the life she is living. Flaubert describes Emma's sentimentality in four pages of beautiful prose and style: "...while beyond, as far as the eye could see, there unfurled the immense kingdom of pleasure and passion.

  2. Independant Essay - Emma

    This quote from Harriet illustrates the variation in their manner of speech and language; "I love to hear you" implies that Emma has a much more pleasant way of speaking. It also reiterates the difference in up-bringing that the pair have had.

  1. Individual Female Rebellion in Madame Bovary and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

    Emma's financial ruin is foreshadowed in the novel's first chapter, when Flaubert projects the danger of badly handled finances by describing Charles father and how he lives his ideal life by spending his wife's money and is led directly into unhappiness, "after the marriage he (Charles's father)

  2. Discuss Emma from Jane Austen s' Emma.

    Knightly had predicted "She will never submit to anything requiring industry and patience and a subjection of the fancy to the understanding" (Volume 1, Chapter 5). Emma is the cleverest in her family and is idolized by a lot of Highbury, this may be why she is so confident and convinced that she`s always right.

  1. A comparison between film versions Emma and Clueless

    like sewing, taking tea, and then there are communication sets, like letters and newspapers. In Clueless the main props are computers, mobiles and televisions, so again, entertainment. And then there are more simple things like pens, pencils, and paper. The camera shots in Emma has involves mainly profiles, as the

  2. Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary both portray significant female ...

    Nora also has the loan she received to take the trip with Torvald. These things show that Nora really cares for her family and that she wants to make them happy. Emma spends money for her own being in Madame Bovary.

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