The Doll House by Henrik Ibsen Essay

The lack of parity for African Americans and women were major in this country’s past life. The play Doll House examines the subject of women’s roles during its time period while the play Fences highlights the theme of the black experience in America during its own time period. In both plays these themes are shown through the conflicts the characters Torvald Helmer and Troy Maxson encounter in their affairs.

Torvalds wife Nora Helmer is a typical women for her time; She is a housewife. She allows Torvald to be controlling of her; molding who she is. She is not allowed to freely think and behave as she wants. Torvald confronts Nora, suspecting her of eating macaroons and asks if “little Miss Sweet Tooth been breaking rules in town today?” (I.142-I.143) This confrontation shows the debasing affiliation that these two have. This proves he sees her nothing more than a “doll wife”. Torvald using the word “little” followed by the pet name “sweet tooth” when referring to Nora is proof she is portraying the role of a “doll wife” which she willingly fulfills. Torvald is a typical husband during a time when the opinion of society meant everything to a man. His eagerness for social acceptance essentially causes the demise of their marriage. When Torvald finds out about the forgery and the loan which is the big secret Nora withholds from him, he berates her for it even though her actions saved his life. His acceptance by society is ruined in his eyes. Torvald is furious and tells Nora she took away his “happiness” and she has ruined his “whole future.” (III.464-III.465) His narcissistic side is exposed in this encounter. Torvald selfishly reacts to the secret that saved his life when he was very ill. Torvald’s selfish behavior causes Nora …

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… job, as a garbage-truck driver. The literal meaning of the fence throughout the book refers to any kinds of boundaries set up that serve as a block against something else; Troy and the outside world, Rose and keeping her family together, and the segregation of blacks and whites during the time period in which the play was written.

Both of these plays highlight the controversial issues and struggles of their eras. Ibsen took on gender roles, and Wilson explored equality for blacks in America. While the types of conflicts and the relationships between the characters are different they both still share the common ideas of expectations of family members, and the unconscious projection of one character’s ideals onto another character. Along with these ideas, the central figures of both a doll’s house and the fence emphasizes the significance of the themes in both plays.

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