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Freedom plays a crucial role in the lives of the protagonists in the texts A Dolls House and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

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Introduction

Freedom means different things for different people and imprisonment is one of the constraints upon one's freedom. Freedom plays a crucial role in the lives of the protagonists in the texts 'A Doll's House' and 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich'. Protagonists of both the texts are imprisoned, albeit that the geographic locations of their prison, the nature of their imprisonment and timeframes are different. In 'A Doll's House', Ibsen's protagonist, Nora, a woman of the Victorian period is an example of a typical Norwegian woman who lives in her home with her husband and three children, but is a prisoner of her society and her husband, but she gains significant increase in freedom during the play. In 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich', Solzhenitsyn uses traditional Russian narrative form, the skaz, who has been imprisoned in a camp in the Soviet gulag system, accused of becoming a spy and captured as a prisoner of war during World War II. In this essay, I will explore the different meanings of freedom for Nora and Shukhov through different motifs of imprisonment: motifs of language, mind, food and letters. During the imprisonment of the protagonists, their personality is squashed through the motifs of language used by their oppressors. In 'A Doll's House', Torvald uses derogatory diminutives words like 'little skylark'1 and 'squirrel'2, to address her. ...read more.

Middle

The motifs of imprisonment are not just physical. Both authors demonstrate the imprisonment of independent thought and opinion through motifs of the mind. Ibsen uses the restrictions on independent thought demonstrating the imprisonment of the mind through Nora's comment, 'Daddy ... tell me what he thoughts, then I thought the same...I thought differently, I kept quiet ..., because he wouldn't have liked ... You arranged everything to your tastes, and I acquired the same tastes.'9 This reveals the imprisonment of her mind by her husband and father. She is not allowed to express her opinions and there is no one to listen her, which hinders her personality development in the beginning of the play. Similarly, Solzhenitsyn also shows Shukhov's imprisonment through motifs of the mind, such as, 'The thoughts of a prisoner- they're not free either.'10 Prisoners are imprisoned by both means, physically and mentally. The narrator's comment, 'The authorities did his thinking for him about everything...'11, reveals that the lives of prisoners are under the control of higher authorities so that they are forced not to think about themselves. The slavery by the authorities makes Shukhov's and his fellow prisoners' lives so hard and unpleasant, they are not able to think about pleasant things. Food, work, temperature, cold, parcels and other camp related conditions had taken the space in the thinking of the prisoners. ...read more.

Conclusion

This contrasts with the setting and timing of the play where social convention obliges women to follow her husband. She showed her courage, after realizing the illusion of her husband's love; she speaks boldly about her imprisonment without hesitating(Act III). Her language tone changes from meagre love words to braveries. She confidently gains her freedom without concern for the prevailing social codes. Consistently, Shukhov who is unable to get his absolute freedom because of his political imprisonment does the things he wants to do. He eats in his own style(by removing his hat), hides small things for future use(hacksaw blade) and behaves with his captain in his own way(especially, when he works with him). He also progresses his nature by enlightening the knowledge of freedom. The protagonists are prisoners of their time: Nora, a social prisoner and Shukhov, a political prisoner. Ibsen and Solzhenitsyn show their protagonists' lack of freedom through different motifs of imprisonment. Complying with the rules of the authoritarians is important; if they do not adhere to their rulers' instructions they risk punishment. Both prisoners' physical and spiritual dignity is denied. However, the protagonists do try to keep their dignity, dreams and freedom even at the period of their imprisonment by doing things in their own small ways. At the end, Nora gets her freedom, although it is at the cost of rejection from her society and Shukhov gains a sense of freedom through religion and solidarity but he does not have control over his absolute freedom. ...read more.

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