The symbolic significance of objects in Medea and A Dolls house

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Gregory Veerananda 12K                Mr.Tighe

The symbolic significance of objects in ‘Medea’ and ‘A Doll’s house’

World Literature

       Word count: 1499

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Euripides Greek tragedy ‘Medea’ and Ibsen’s ‘Pre-feminist play’  ‘A Doll’s House’ makes use of household objects in depicting the character relationships. In ‘Medea’, the objects allow the audience to explore the struggling marriage between the characters, Jason and Medea, as well as the impact of Jason’s affair. Similarly, Ibsen uses objects to indicate Nora’s depression caused by her unmerited marriage; ironically, the objectification of Nora by her husband and her victimization in society. Both writers allow readers the freedom to interpret the household objects subjectively which challenges the reader to question the extent to which the household objects relate to the theme of marriages.

Initially, Ibsen places immense significance on different objects in the household, and stresses the directions for the setting of the stage. Ibsen makes use of a triad, “a room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not expensively, the triad of adverbs shows that Nora and Torvald try to make the room look ‘expensively’ but actually they aren’t rich. This sets a warm tone and mood through the significance of detail, but also allows the audience to build their personal perception. A room where “a door to the right leads to the entrance- hall, another to the left leads to Helmer’s study”, creating visual imaginaries as the audience gets the information in detail about the setting of the stage. This symbolizes Nora’s state as she can create her liberation and self actualization or she can stay in the patriarchal times of society, only if she realizes. Doors act as barriers of separation and are much like her life as she is separated in her world and Helmers’. The plot of both plays concludes with the women, leaving their husbands out of their own will and ambition. Whilst this is the realization of the liberation of women, throughout the play, the different objects accompany the audiences’ reaction to the actions of the characters and act as catalysts emphasizing emotions such as love, anger and passion.

Moreover, before both women liberate themselves from their loveless marriages, they go through a struggle with themselves and their husbands. Euripides uses the bed to show a link between marriage, trust and betrayal within a marriage, the path that Medea takes, from love to betrayal is crucial in the development of her character and her motivation towards her actions. The bed in ‘Medea’ has intimate connotations between the two genders but also emphasizes the loss of love and getting ‘tired of sex’, as well as the loyalty that Medea depended on. When Jason goes “to another woman’s bed, grieving too much for him who shared your bed”, the bed, a common object used focuses on the centre of the stage, representing the ‘grey-area’ between marriage and divorce.  Euphemism occurs as going to another woman’s bed has sexual connotations but are covered up. The bed’s ambiguity represents the dilemma of a man's love for his wife that could lead him to abandon his family, as Jason did, to follow his professional ambitions. “That I grew tired of your bed and felt the need of a new bride” , this foreshadows the need of a new bride which emphasizes that women are depicted as material possessions much that are expendable like objects, the adjective symbolizes the need for something ‘new’ required by Jason.

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The bed parallels as a device portraying the lack of power that women hold in Athenian society, after having abandoned Medea “Jason has taken his royal wife to bed” , the past tense conveys an accomplishment of his new marriage with Creon’s daughter, therefore ‘officially’ ending his marriage with Medea. The adjective ‘royal’ is something that Medea will never be and that’s why Jason remarries. The emphasis on this quotation can be placed on Jason much like Medea’s rage.

Many describe Medea’s reaction to her abandonment to be an amoral act out of love. However, the extent to which ...

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