The Awakening vs. A Doll House

1934 Words8 Pages
“He played with me the way that I played with my dolls” (Ibsen 747-748). Nora informs her husband Torvald how her father used to treat her in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House. The idea of women being used as a men’s toys is a common theme in both A Doll House and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. Both Nora Helmer and Edna Pontellier, the heroines of these works, are constantly being controlled by the men in their life which leads them to committing their drastic final actions. Nora’s abandonment and Edna’s suicide are the only way that these women are able to assert control over their own lives and take a step out of social norms. Throughout Nora and Edna’s lives they are always being taken advantage of by the three types of men in their lives, their fathers, their husbands, and their affairs. The first man to assert control on a young girl is their fathers. Both Edna’s and Nora’s fathers instructed them on how to behave and what to think since the time they were born until the time that they were handed off to their husbands. Nora’s father took hold over her life by molding her to behave in the manner that he saw fit, “‘When I lived at home with Papa, he told me all of his opinions, so I had the same ones too; or if they were different I hid them, since he wouldn’t have cared for that’” (Ibsen 747). Nora did everything to please the men in her life. This attitude started with her father and then eventually carried on into her marriage, which only left her unhappy in her life decisions. Nora gave up who she was and what she believed in so that she could be seen as the perfect daughter and wife. By leaving her family and starting a life of her own Nora gains the ability to control her own life and form her own ideas and opinions. Like Nora, Edna’s father tried to control her. To Edna’s father, the Colonel, being a good father, or husband for that matter, meant taking control
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