Literature has always been an integral part of human society. There is no use denying the fact that it has always helped people to reflect their thoughts and emotions connected with different events in their life. With this in mind, it is possible to say that authors use their works as some platform for the dialogue with readers and further generations. Obviously, different epochs can be characterized by different problems and points of view on some important issues. Analyzing some works, it is possible to understand what ideas were peculiar to society of the epoch in which a certain book or novel was written. Moreover, the literature does not just describe some processes.
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However, it makes a reader think about them and understand the necessity of some changes. With this in mind, it is possible to call literature a very powerful remedy which influences the minds of people and their points of view. Resting on these facts, it is possible to analyze some works which belong to the same period of time in order to understand the main ideas of the epoch and the authors message to readers. The work The Father by August Strindberg and A Dolls House by Henrik Ibsen were written at the end of the 19th century. This epoch can be characterized by the increase in the level of peoples conscious and blistering development of ideas of humanism, tolerance, and feminism.
Resting on these facts, it is possible to say that in these works, the authors tend to show great social pressure on the individuals and the necessity to perform some traditional roles. Moreover, it is also possible to say that the issue of feminism is also touched in these works. Being bright representatives of their epoch, Ibsen, and Strindberg reflected topical problems of society in their works.
First of all, it should be said that both these authors are representatives of Scandinavian Literature. Being citizens of Sweden and Norway, they obviously described similar problems as these countries always were close to each other. Henrik Ibsen very often is taken as one of the greatest dramatists of the modern age (Marker and Marker 7). The thing is that he devoted great attention to details, describing peculiarities of the epoch, peoples life, and topical problems.
Moreover, his style influenced a great number of other authors who tried to create their works according to traditions established by Henrik Ibsen. Moreover, the majority of his works were set in Norway, that is why it is possible to say that Strindberg also had the opportunity to admire Ibsens style and be influenced by it. In his works, Ibsen devoted great attention to societys moral values and psychological conflicts that appeared between people in everyday life. Being very talented playwright, Ibsen managed to show the tiniest details of human relations and their thoughts. Moreover, the ideas of humanism can be seen in his works as he understood the mood of society and tried to reflect it.
At the same time, Strindberg also devoted much attention to the issue of human relations. He is known for some unusual approach to drama as he created some new forms of expression of the main ideas. Trying to show all peculiarities of human relations, Strindberg wanted to create real characters, thinking through the tiniest details of every hero. Moreover, as he lived at the same time with Ibsen, there is a great number of common motifs in their works. Strindberg was also interested in such issues as tolerance, feminism, and social expectations. A great number of his works center around the life of people who have to answer expectations of society.
Additionally, some inner reflections of his characters are shown for readers to be able to understand peculiarities of the way of thinking of people of that age. Resting on these facts, it is possible to say that both Ibsen and Strindberg devoted great attention to the description of existing traditions and points of view on the life of a family and traditional roles of wife and husband. To support this statement with clear evidence, it is possible to analyze two works of these authors to see the main peculiarities of their composition and the authors points of view on some questions.
The play A Dolls House is devoted to the life of one family. Nora and Helmer are usual representatives of society at the end of the 19th century. He works at the bank while Nora is a housewife. At the first gaze, the family seems quite happy, though Helmer blames Nora for great spending. However, she is not disappointed by his words. Moreover, she looks happy and completely satisfied with her life. She is planning their further actions cogitating about the salary which her husband will get.
At this moment, she is satisfied with her doll-like existence and does not think much about her position in the family. However, her husband and double standards connected with his attitude towards her awaken Nora. She had to borrow money to save her husbands life. Besides, when this fact reveals and she is not able to return the money, Helmer wants to leave her as he is against debts “No debt, no borrowing” (Ibsen act 1, para. 21). This episode and the change in the attitude promote Noras understanding of her position in the family and society. Though she does not have to pay any more as Krogstad forgives a debt and her husband again wants to be with her, Nora does not want to live her life this way anymore.
A similar family dispute can be seen in the work The Father by Strindberg. The story also centers around the life of a common family of this period of time. Captain Adolph and his wife, Laura, do not understand each other. Moreover, having different points of view on their daughters future, they always argue about it and cannot make a compromise. The author obviously touches such important issues as social pressure on people and their attempts to live with it. Captain and Laura try to live like the common family where the husband is the householder. This distribution of roles in the family becomes one of the main reasons for the conflict between the main characters.
Adolph is sure that it is for him to determine the future of his daughter as a father has more power. Being not satisfied with the current state of affairs, Laura decides to act and use methods that are available for her. She tries to persuade society that her husband is mad and is not able to give clear orders. Moreover, she tells her husband that he cannot be sure that Bertha is his daughter. Being not able to overcome all these difficulties, Adolph dies, and Laura seems to be satisfied with it as now Bertha is only her daughter. Her final words, “My child, my own child!” (Strindberg, act 3, para. 65) prove it.
Having outlined the main ideas of these two works, it is possible to analyze the main characters and the main ideas peculiar to them. It is obvious that Laura and Nora can be taken as the image of women who struggle for their rights, though they do it in different ways. Being rather a facile woman, Nora just decides to avoid all problems leaving her husband with the desire to start a new life. At the same time, Laura acts aggressively. She tries to protect her right to influence the life of her child. She does not sympathize with her husband, being sure that she is right. Moreover, she does not understand him and his interest in investigations.
The only thing she wants is to obtain freedom. It is obvious that it is so different. These two female characters are created by the authors to show the position of women in society and their attempts to improve it. Feminist ideas can be seen in these works. Both Ibsen and Strindberg show that there is a necessity to change the traditional role of women in society as they already are not satisfied with it. They should be given the right to participate in social life and take part in the determination of their childrens future life. With the help of these two characters, the authors want to show that the whole life of a woman is determined by some social expectations and outdated stereotypes.
Being representatives of their age, Ibsen and Strindberg reflect new tendencies in society in their works (Naess 98). They underline womens desire to change their roles and be able to manage their lives on their own. However, feminism is not the only problem touched in these works. The social pressure on the individual is brightly shown in the plays as the main characters suffer from it, being not able to overcome the interference of different people in their life.
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Ibsen, Henrik. A Dolls House. 1879. Web.
Marker, Frederick and Marker, Lise-Lone. A History of Scandinavian Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1996. Print.
Naess, Harald. A History of Norwegian Literature (A History of Scandinavian Literatures). Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. 1993. Print.
Strindberg. The Father. 1887. Web.