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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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. Thus we can see that both Medea and Nora can be characterised as rebels against the societies they live in.

To begin with, Nora has fit into her society quite appropriately. She has married Torvald Helmer, and has three small children. She fulfills her duties as mother and wife with no apparent constraints from happiness. She does indeed thrive on keeping her home as best she can with the limited money she has at her disposal. One example of this is where she has bought Christmas presents for Torvald, all of her children, and even the maids; however she buys nothing for herself. She endures Torvald’s condescending stance towards her, and does not retaliate when he criticizes both her and her father by saying that Nora is “just like your father – always on the look-out for all the money you can get, but the moment you have it, it seems to slip through your fingers…” The impression we are left with after these first pages is that of Nora being extremely naïve, and having to be put in her place by Helmer, who does so almost instinctively.

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However, by the end of the first act we get a taste of Nora’s first act of ‘rebellion’. During her conversation with Kristina Linde, she confesses that she borrowed the money for Nora and Torvald’s trip to Italy. This does not seem that serious a crime to us; however Mrs. Linde accurately describes why it is so serious when she bluntly states that Nora could not have borrowed the money, as “a wife can’t borrow without her husband’s consent.” Nora clearly acted without her husband’s consent, as Torvald had clearly told Nora earlier in the act that “There’s something constrained, ...

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