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Appearance Versus Reality - As Veneers Unmask in Miss Julie and A Dolls House

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WORLD LITERATURE ASSIGNMENT 1 Comparative Study Appearance Versus Reality: As Veneers Unmask in Miss Julie and A Doll's House Every literary work possesses a dominant theme such as appearance and reality which are the main ideas in August Strindberg's Miss Julie and Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House. Over the course of these two plays, appearances prove to be manipulating veneers that hide the reality of the play's characters. As the theme clearly reveals itself in Jean of Miss Julie and Krogstad of A Doll's House, readers may start to doubt the roles these two characters take on as the antagonists of the plays. A conventional antagonist is often portrayed as being ruthless and cruel, desiring status and power, causing destruction and death. However, as the revelation of appearance and reality occurs through the exposure of the respective characters' traits, motifs, and purposes, the quality of Jean and Krogstad being the conventional antagonists becomes questionable. Krogstad initially presents himself as a cold-hearted character who intimidates Nora in order to keep his subordinate position at the bank. He threatens her with the disclosure of her crime of forgery and acts ruthlessly to gain his ends: "Do as you please. But let me tell you this - if I lose my position a second time, you shall lose yours with me."1 Krogstad further demonstrates his cold-heartedness as he continues to torment Nora for her deceptive actions. ...read more.


Look at me now - I am a shipwrecked man clinging to a bit of wreckage."6 Clearing his long years of misunderstandings with Mrs. Linde, Krogstad decides to help Nora (because she is a close friend of Mrs. Linde) and says that: "Yes, of course I will. I will wait here till Helmer comes; I will tell him he must give me my letter back - that it only concerns my dismissal - that he is not to read it."7 Contrariwise, after making love with Miss Julie, Jean cruelly rejects her and admits his stories are all just deceptive lies. He becomes merciless in his words and actions and leaves Miss Julie in complete despair: "Do you think any of the girls around here would approach a man the way you did? I've only seen the like among animals and prostitutes."8 At this point, all fa�ades are torn and the characters show their true nature. As readers, we begin to undercut the first impressions that were formed of Krogstad and Jean. After witnessing the extreme transformations in which the two characters undergo, the notion of them being conventional antagonists, the embodiment of evil, comes into play once again. Can a character be considered an antagonist - a true villain - if his persona changes through the course of the story? As Krogstad and Jean's characters are revealed, it is evident that it is not their personalities that are changing, but rather, the way they are portrayed, and the situations (and their awareness of them) ...read more.


Whether it is the transformation from a villain to a well-liked man, or from a devoted friend to a brutal traitor, the pretenses that Krogstad and Jean try to keep eventually reveal their true nature. And upon these character revelations, one shifts the perception of an antagonist away from these characters. The revelation of the theme of appearance and reality through the traits, motifs, and purposes of the two major antagonists also exposes two unconventional characters. Jean and Krogstad seem to wear a false front to conceal emotional and psychological matters that they do not want the society to see. This is the appearance. Yet, through the play the mask of reality slips, revealing through words and actions characters who are not as they first appeared. This is the reality. Jean's character, initially believed to be loyal and faithful later reveals himself to be the opposite. On the other hand, Krogstad, who first appears villainous and coldhearted is soon exposed as caring and decent. Appearance and reality are sometimes the same thing. However, as the characters demonstrated, sometimes, they are not. 1 Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, pg. 25 2 Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, pg. 44 3 August Strindberg, Miss Julie, pg. 83 4 Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, pg. 22 5 August Strindberg, Miss Julie, pg. 73 6 Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, pg. 50 7 Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, pg. 52 8 August Strindberg, Miss Julie, pg. 91 9 Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, pg. 52 10 August Strindberg, Miss Julie, pg. 83 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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