How does the social setting affect the husband-wife relationship in A Dolls House and Death And The Maiden?

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                Dhirubhai Ambani International School

          International Baccalaureate

IB English A1 Standard Level

World Literature Assignment

Topic: How does the social setting affect the husband-wife relationship in A Doll’s House and Death And The Maiden?

Name: *******

Candidate Number: *****

Session: May 2010

Word Count: 1431

Both Henrik Ibsen and Ariel Dorfman use the social setting of their plays to influence the relationship between the husband and wife. In both the plays society plays a major role in the important decisions the husband has to take. Both Torvald and Gerardo are worried about what society will think of them when their wives both do something wrong. Also both the husbands treated their wives like they were inferiors. They were treated like children and not equally. In Death and the Maiden, the circumstances of Paulina and Gerardo’s relationship and situation of the country made them trust each other and so Paulina opened up to Gerardo about the details of her incarceration. On the other hand, in A Doll’s House Nora and Torvald’s relationship was just a marriage that looked perfect in society and was not out of true love so Nora did not reveal the details of her secret of her forging her father’s signature to take a loan to Torvald. Due to the circumstances surrounding Paulina and Gerardo’s marriage, it was out of true love, while Nora and Torvald’s marriage was just a marriage that looked perfect to society even though it was slowly crumbling from the inside.

Both the playwrights wanted to show that women tend to have a subordinate position in society. The wives were not considered as equals and were inferior to their husbands. Both Gerardo and Torvald would not talk to their wives like they were on the same level but would regard them as less mature and would use pacifying words to comfort them. They would almost treat them like children. For example, Gerardo would call Paulina “his little baby” and “silly girl” and also would keep embracing her to calm her down instead of explaining the predicaments properly to her.

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Gerardo: Paulina, Paulina. That’s enough. Paulina.

He takes her in his arms. She slowly calms down.

Silly. Silly girl, my baby.

Similarly, in A Doll’s House, Torvald would call Nora by pet names like “Squirrel” and “little lark”

Hel.: Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

Thus it can be seen that whatever the social setting, let it be late 20th century Chile or 19th century Norway, the woman has been given a subordinate position in society. The husband has always been the dominating figure. These actions also show that the power roles and gender conflicts existed in both the societies.


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