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The portrayal of women as rebels in society, as seen by the characterisation of Nora in Ibsen's "A Doll's House" and Medea in Euripides' "Medea".

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Introduction

The portrayal of women as rebels in society, as seen by the characterisation of Nora in Ibsen's "A Doll's House" and Medea in Euripides' "Medea". Throughout history, the role of gender equality has been viewed with varying degrees of importance by societies. People are quick to identify and label a 'rebel' as the one who goes against all the moral convictions and different 'normalities' of each society. The definition of rebel is listed as "someone or something that resists any authority or control." In the context of society, the control which is resisted by the rebel can be no other than the stereotypes of that particular society, a feature which can be directly linked to the oppression of women and their desires and aspirations under standardised conditions and circumstances. Can the rebellious attitudes of women be condemned, ignoring the discontent of these women? Also, should their happiness become repressed, giving way to self-sacrifice and the forfeiting of their desires? It is these issues which Medea and Nora are faced with, and in each case we can see that their decision to go against the stereotypes of the eras are perhaps indicative of the predominance of their own desires and dreams over the notion of self-sacrifice. ...read more.

Middle

Here, we see that Nora's strive to prove herself, and to show that she is not useless, both to herself and to Torvald is something she has kept to herself all these years. Torvald's explosion of rage when he reads Krogstad's letter makes her understand that she will always be the same, na�ve little 'songbird' to Torvald. She bluntly says to Torvald that "...you've never understood me. I've been dreadfully wronged, Torvald - first by Papa, and then by you."8 Nora feels undermined throughout her whole life, and she has just realised this. Torvald's accusations and his row with Nora is the final straw for her. She decides to abandon him, as well as the children, as she believes that she is not 'experienced' enough to raise them to be respectable people. Nora herself says that "...how am I fitted to bring up the children?"9 She also decides to leave so as to acquire the experience and knowledge she desires, saying that "I must think things out for myself and try to understand them." 10 Nora leaving the children is in itself a rebellious act, which is most definitely unacceptable to her society. Nora forfeits a stable household and a comfortable living for her own happiness. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, this fact does not lead us to view her acts as not being rebellious. Medea murders her children to get revenge on Jason, and then very bitterly refuses to allow him to bury his own children. This is an act which contradicts all of the ancient customs and what they would consider as being 'right'. Thus, Medea, like Nora, can be characterised as a 'rebel'. To conclude, Nora's strive for recognition and credit in her own eyes leads her to acts which go against the normal situations in her society. Medea's lust for vengeance, combined with her absolute resolution, also lead her down this rebellious path, thus showing that in both cases, the struggle for happiness and peace of heart and mind does not follow the rules and restraints of each society. 1 Ibsen, A Doll's House, p. 149 2 Ibsen, A Doll's House, p. 151 3 Ibsen, A Doll's House, p. 160 4 Ibsen, A Doll's House, p. 149 5 Ibsen, A Doll's House, p. 179 6 Ibsen, A Doll's House, p. 160 7 Ibsen, A Doll's House, p. 175 8 Ibsen, A Doll's House, p. 225 9 Ibsen, A Doll's House, p. 226 10 Ibsen, A Doll's House, p. 228 11 Euripides, Medea, p. 18 12 Euripides, Medea, p. 60 13 Euripides, Medea, p. 58 14 Euripides, Medea, p. 61 3 ...read more.

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