The plays Trifles by Susan Glasspell and A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen present the concerns of women in the society. The Trifles is a feminist drama with two main characters, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale. It recounts proceedings in Iowa at the beginning of the 21st century. Between years 1899 and 1901, Glaspell worked as a journalist for the Des Moines News. As a journalist, she was writing and reflecting on the trial of agronomist's wife, Margaret Hossack, in Indianola, Iowa. This gave a way to the publishing of Trifles. A Doll House is a drama that criticizes the traditional roles of married partners in the 19th century. The play has drawn controversy among society, especially due to its ending, where Nora, the main character, walked away, leaving her husband and children behind, because she wanted to ascertain herself. It was believed that men run the world, and this false belief became the main idea of Ibsen's drama
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The women characters in these plays exhibit both, similarities and differences. In A Doll House, the main character is Nora Helmer. She lives with her husband Torvald, who constantly insults her. She does not mind it and doesn't speak out. This kind of behavior is similar to Mrs. Wright's from Trifles, who adapts to her unhappy marriage. She was denied a pleasure of singing, but she remained silent and didn't express her feelings to her husband.
Similar to Mrs. Wright in Trifles, Nora is a secretive lady. When her friend Christine visits her, she reveals to her that she took a debt secretly from her husband so that they could afford a year-long journey to Italy. Despite her husband and friends portray her as extravagant, she is quite a money savior. She works secretly to earn money in order to repay the debt. Mrs. Wright's secret is more serious, however, as she murdered her husband. In the play, she mourns in deception, but her friends Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale get the evidence that she is the murderer. However, they choose to hide the evidence. (Glaspell, 2004).
To continue, Mrs. Wright and Nora are lawbreakers. For instance, they break the law to achieve their interests. Nora commits fraud to save her husband, while Mrs. Wright murders her husband.
In addition, Mrs. Wright and Nora both show boldness and determination. Nora incurs debts and takes up odd jobs to save her husband’s life. She also commits fraud for the sake of her husband. Similar to her, Mrs. Wright makes a bold move of killing her husband, despite the associated risks. She works hard to reach her goal even if that means breaking the law (Ibsen, 1992).
However, in contrast to Mrs. Wright who chooses to kill her husband, Nora decides to walk out on her husband and seek independence. When Nora realizes that there is no love in her marriage, she walks out of her husband and children (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008).
Mrs. Wright finds some joy in her marriage, in contrast to Nora, whose life is miserable, because her husband continuously insults her. Still, despite her misery, Nora works hard for the sake of her husband’s life., while Mrs. Wright schemes and murders her husband.
A Doll House uses symbolism in various ways. The setting is during Christmas time. This period symbolizes rebirth and renewal. In such a way, Nora and her husband Torvald have undergone a renewal when Torvald has finally realized that his wife worked hard to save his life. It results to the radical change in Torvald's perception of his wife. He used to know her as inconsiderate and spendthrift, but now opens his eyes to see the whole picture. Nora also undergoes renewal when she realizes that her relationship with Torvald is empty of love, and this feeling lives only in her imagination.
Glaspell inTrifles also uses symbolism. The play recounts that before marrying her husband, Mrs. Wright was singing with great pleasure. However, after the marriage she could not sing anymore. This is a symbol of Mrs. Wright’s predicament, when the lack of singing, which implies pleasure to her, becomes a representation of an unhappy marriage. This is like a spiritual death, also represented by the throttling of her songbird companion.
To conclude, the two plays present women as secretive and deceptive. The authors are also reflecting on how these women relate with their men. In the play A Doll House, Nora loves her husband and shows determination to save his life. She works hard secretively to save her husband’s life. When he realizes it, he decides to sacrifice his life for her. This turns out to be unsuccessful, however, because Nora realizes that there is no love in their relationship. She leaves her husband. In Trifles, Mrs. Wright’s life is about an unhappy marriage with her husband, so she secretly murders him. Her friends, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale hide the evidence to protect her.