The presentation of the departure of women from their households in A Doll(TM)s House and Like Water for Chocolate

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                Name: Sanay Shah

Candidate Number: csy131

British School of Brussels

World Literature Essay Standard Level (English A1)

The presentation of the departure of women from their households in A Doll’s House and Like Water for Chocolate

In both texts, A Doll’s House and Like Water for Chocolate, the authors present women’s departure from their family and community. Both Ibsen and Esquivel use women leaving the households to develop the characters of Nora and Gertrudis. The authors use various techniques and styles in order to present and question the effects of the departure on both characters and the narrative as a whole. Although in today’s society such an action may be more common, during the time of these texts, such an act would be considered abnormal and atrocious. It is important to understand why each character left, how they leave and the consequences of the departure on society and other characters.

Each character departs in a different manner which affects the development of the characters and the plot of the novel. In Like Water for Chocolate we come across Gertrudis who leaves in a mysterious way, and does not discuss the situation with anyone. Gertrudis wants to leave her domestic realms in order to become a soldier and take over the role of a man in Mexican society. During the leaving scene of Gertrudis, the readers realise that ‘she ran out of the little enclosure just as she was, completely naked.’ Esquivel uses a comma to create a dramatic pause, after which she reveals that Gertrudis was ‘completely naked.’ The way in which Gertrudis is affected by the food prepared by Tita and how she is carried away on a galloping horse is like a fantasy and the vivid imagery of pink sweat and powerful aroma further conveys the magic realism within the novel. The fact that Gertrudis talks to no-one about her departure is opposing the way in which Nora leaves the household in A Doll’s House.

Nora expresses her desire to leave the household differently; by talking to Torvald. Nora primarily expresses her feelings to Torvald by telling him the truth, moreover expressing the idea of their marriage being a failure. Nora attempts to get to terms with Torvald and does so by the use of rhetorical questions: ‘how could you ever teach me to be a proper wife? Your wife?’  Nora uses rhetorical questions in order to emphasise that the marriage was a failure and that the only way she can experience life is by leaving. The audience may further understand the extent to which it is definite and imperative for Nora to leave the household by the symbolism used by Ibsen. Nora is ‘Changing’ and says, ‘No more fancy dress.’ The use of symbolism by Ibsen, gives the audience a clearer image of the fact that Nora is definitely changing roles and attitude, thus leaving the household.

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Both authors, Esquivel and Ibsen, describe each character at the point of leaving through different techniques and in different manners. Esquivel uses very sexual and grotesque images at the departure of Gertrudis from the house. The disappearance of Gertrudis reveals much about her female sexuality, where she exceeds the boundaries of gender roles and family obligations without second thought, ‘He (Pedro) couldn’t get the image of Gertrudis out of his mind.’ This suggests the way in which Gertrudis left the household was unimaginable and opposing the Mexican culture. On the contrary her departure is also sort of expulsion as the ...

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