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Women’s Rebellion in Ibsen’s “A Dollhouse” and Glaspell’s “Trifles”

The play A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen a Norwegian playwright was written in 1879. The play was written during a period that was critical of the marriage norms. Thus, the play raised controversy after its publication. The play is relevant even in today’s world as it addresses pertinent issues that rock the institution of marriage. The other play is Trifles by Susan Glaspell. The play was written in 1916. The two main women in the two plays commit acts of rebellion and this discussion will focus on which character commits a greater act of rebellion.

The play Doll House was written during a revolution in Europe. During this period women were under the oppression of men. They depended on the males who dominated them. Nora in A Doll House had to take a loan to take care of her husband who was seriously ill. Moreover, she was pregnant and they were facing poverty. However, she could not get a loan on her own because she needed to have a male co-signer. Thus, she forged her father’s signature to get a loan. She had to work very hard to repay the debt secretly. Her husband treated her like a child and did not think she was capable of doing anything. Moreover, marriage was a sacred institution and Ibsen went ahead to criticize the roles assigned to men and women during the 19th century. His play showed a woman taking destiny into her own hands and abandoning her husband and children to find herself. Nora did not conform to tradition by initiating the divorce because such a role only belonged to a husband but rebel the societal norms regardless.

The play Trifles was written in 1916 during the evolution era in Europe when women faced domination from their male counterparts. Mrs. Wright had to quit the choir and cut off herself from society. She become very lonely and unhappy as Mrs. Hale observed she had no child and her husband was away at work most of the time. Women during this time were mainly assigned to housekeeping and the men thought that was the only thing they were capable of doing. For instance, the men investigating Mr. Wright’s murder missed the clue to the murder because it was in trifles. However, the play shows that the women were not happy about their situation and as Mrs. Wright strangled her husband in his sleep and thus no longer under his domination is symbolic of women’s emancipation. She had chosen to rebel and committed murder.

The two authors have some similarities. Both the plays are based on their real-life experiences. Henrik Ibsen’s friend Laura took a loan in secret and kept it from her husband Victor. When he found out, he divorced her but after two years they were reunited. Likewise, Susan Glaspell wrote from real-life experience too. She was a reporter for the Des Monies News and was involved in the covering of a murder trial of a wife accused of murdering her husband. The two drew inspiration from the two scenarios and highlighted the plight of women in their literary work. The playwrights wrote about women’s issues and questioned the disadvantaged role assigned to women and the rebellion that arises due to suppression.

The women in the two plays rebel at the end. Nora in the Doll House rebels by leaving her husband and children because she discovered that she did not know herself. She also found out that her husband was selfish and was not willing to stand with her during her trying moment as her reputation was at stake. Walking away from a marriage at that time was unusual yet she decided to leave despite her husband telling her to stay for the sake of their children. However, today women have gained rights in many parts of the world and can file for a divorce but some cannot even think of asking for one as the men still dominate and make such important decisions. Mrs. Wright also rebels against her husband by killing him because he had strangled her bird. The bird kept her cheerful with its singing and when her husband killed it she could not take the loss and decided to avenge. She was trying to break herself lose from the marriage institution that had stifled and made her lose herself. Mrs. Hale told Mrs. Peters that before Mrs. Wright had gotten married she was a cheerful person and sang in the choir. However, after marrying Mr. Wright she became sad and lonely.

Of the two women, I think that Mrs. Wright’s rebellion was greater. She did not think of another way of escaping from her situation and decided to take the life of the man who had made her life difficult, unlike Nora who decided to quit the marriage. Mrs. Wright depicts many women in today’s society who still live under the oppression of men. They fight to gain their freedom from oppressive men and some end up paying for their crimes in prison. The final act of rebellion by the two men shows there is hope for the women folk someday if they are willing to take an action and change their situation then one day they will cry out and say we are free.

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StudyKraken. (2022, March 21). Women’s Rebellion in Ibsen’s “A Dollhouse” and Glaspell’s “Trifles”. Retrieved from https://studykraken.com/womens-rebellion-in-ibsens-a-dollhouse-and-glaspells-trifles/

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StudyKraken. (2022, March 21). Women’s Rebellion in Ibsen’s “A Dollhouse” and Glaspell’s “Trifles”. https://studykraken.com/womens-rebellion-in-ibsens-a-dollhouse-and-glaspells-trifles/

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"Women’s Rebellion in Ibsen’s “A Dollhouse” and Glaspell’s “Trifles”." StudyKraken, 21 Mar. 2022, studykraken.com/womens-rebellion-in-ibsens-a-dollhouse-and-glaspells-trifles/.

1. StudyKraken. "Women’s Rebellion in Ibsen’s “A Dollhouse” and Glaspell’s “Trifles”." March 21, 2022. https://studykraken.com/womens-rebellion-in-ibsens-a-dollhouse-and-glaspells-trifles/.


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StudyKraken. "Women’s Rebellion in Ibsen’s “A Dollhouse” and Glaspell’s “Trifles”." March 21, 2022. https://studykraken.com/womens-rebellion-in-ibsens-a-dollhouse-and-glaspells-trifles/.

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StudyKraken. 2022. "Women’s Rebellion in Ibsen’s “A Dollhouse” and Glaspell’s “Trifles”." March 21, 2022. https://studykraken.com/womens-rebellion-in-ibsens-a-dollhouse-and-glaspells-trifles/.

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StudyKraken. (2022) 'Women’s Rebellion in Ibsen’s “A Dollhouse” and Glaspell’s “Trifles”'. 21 March.

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