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Gender Stereotypes in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and Susan Glaspell's Trifles

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Gender Stereotypes in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and Susan Glaspell's Trifles


In the plays A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, and Trifles, by Susan Glaspell, the male characters propagate stereotypes and make assumptions concerning the female characters. These assumptions deal with the way in which the male characters see the female characters, on a purely stereotypical, gender-related level. The stereotypes and assumptions made in A Doll's House are manifest in the way Torvald Helmer treats his wife, Nora, and in the way Nora acts to please her husband. These include the beliefs that women are lesser people, childlike in their actions and in need of being controlled. Nora knows as long as she acts in accordance with the way she is expected, she will get what she wants from Torvald. The stereotypes and assumptions made in Trifles are those of the women being concerned only with trifling things, that they are loyal to the feminine gender, and that women are subservient to their spouses.

Torvald Helmer is the stereotypical Nineteenth-century husband, as he is a controlling, condescending patriarch. By referring to his wife with diminutive names, Torvald propagates the "women are lesser that men" stereotype and keeps his wife in a position of subservience. In line 11 of the first act, we come across the first instance of Torvald's bird references to Nora with "Is that my little lark twittering out there?" This reference is the first of many in which Torvald refers to Nora as a lark. Often this referencing is preceded by diminutive terms such as "little" and "sweet, little." Torvald also refers to Nora as a squirrel, a spendthrift, a songbird, and a goose, these terms also preceded with a diminutive. The significance of th...


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...iterature. 5th edition. Boston & New York: Bedford/St. Martin's Press, 1999. 1564-1612.

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House. Lives Through Literature: A Thematic Anthology. Ed. Helane Levine Keating et al. 2nd ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995. 782-838.

Longford, Elizabeth. Eminent Victorian Women. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1981.

McFarlane, James, compiler. Henrik Ibsen: A Critical Anthology. 1970.

Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart. "The Angel Over the Right Shoulder." Solomon 1: 156-64.

Sigourney, Lydia. "The Intemperate." Solomon 1: 70-85.

Solomon, Barbara H., ed. Rediscoveries: American Short Stories by Women, 1832-1916. New York: Penguin Group, 1994.

Templeton, Joan. "Is A Doll House a Feminist Text?" (1989). Rpt. In Meyer. 1635-36.

Templeton, Joan. "The Doll House Backlash: Criticism, Feminism,and Ibsen." PMLA (January 1989): 28-40.


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