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Comparing Men’s Assumptions in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles and Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

Men’s Assumptions in Trifles and A Doll House

There are many similarities in the relationships between men and women in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles and Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House. The conflict in each play is the result of incorrect assumptions made by the males of a male-dominated society. The men believe that women focus on trivial matters and are incapable of intelligent thinking, while the women quietly prove the men’s assumptions wrong.

In the plays Trifles and A Doll House men believe women only focus on trivial matters. While Mrs. Wright is being held in jail for the murder of her husband, she is concerned about the cold weather causing her jars of fruit to freeze and burst. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale discuss Mrs. Wright’s concern over her canned fruit after finding a broken jar. Mrs. Peters voices Mrs. Wright’s concern, “She said the fir’d go out and her jars would break” (Glaspell 1.27). The Sheriff’s response is, “Well can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin’ about her preserves” (Glaspell 1.28). The women realize the hard work involved in canning this fruit and understand Mrs. Wright’s concern. The men see this as unimportant compared to the trouble Mrs. Wright is facing.

Likewise, in Isben’s play A Doll House Helmer believes that his wife Nora only focuses on trivial matters. Three weeks prior to Christmas Nora spent every evening working alone. Helmer believes that Nora is making the family Christmas ornaments and other treats for the Christmas holidays. In reality, Nora is working for money to repay a loan that she illegally acquired when Helmer was ill. The house cat is blamed for destroying the nonexisting ornaments. Helmer reminds her of the long hours spent away from the family. Helmer sa…

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…n, John S. Ibsen: The Open Vision. 1982.

Durbach, Errol. A Doll’s House: Ibsen’s Myth of Transformation. Boston: Twayne, 1991.

Glaspell, Susan. “Trifles.” Plays by Susan Glaspell. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, Inc., 1920. Reprinted in Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia Eds. New York: Harper Collins Publisher, 1995.

Glaspell, Susan. Trifles. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. Ed. John Schilb and John Clifford. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2000. 127-137.

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House (1879). Trans. Rolf Fjelde. Rpt. in Michael Meyer, ed. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 5th edition. Boston

The Oppression of Miranda in The Tempest

The Oppression of Miranda in The Tempest

Miranda’s schooling in The Tempest shows the audience the conflicting arrangement white women in the Shakespearean drama as well as Shakespearean times are forced to act within. Paul Brown points out that “the discourse of sexuality…offers the crucial nexus for the various domains of colonialist discourse” (208) and the conduct in Prospero manipulates his followers’ sexuality is the mainstay of his power. The Miranda-Prospero relationship servers to represent a sort of patriarchy, which is unarguably the system many Renaissance women and women of Shakespeare’s time found themselves in. It is thus unsurprising that Prospero controls Miranda and her sexuality as well. The system of patriarchy is demonstratd again and again throughout the play. For example, we see that Prospero’s wisdom, magic, and education of Miranda, as well as his civilizing of Caliban demonstrates a system of authoritative love. There is no question that Prospero loves and wishes to protect his daughter; for example, Prospero continuously reiterates how much he cares for Miranda. However, at the same time, he exhibits enough power over her to be considered a patriarch. Prospero’s authority over Miranda is so great that she cannot do anything but follow her father’s wishes; it almost appears as if she has no choice in the matter for she, like Ariel and Caliban, can also be subject to Prospero’s magical control. However, it appears that upon a closer study of this, we see that, patriarchalism makes specific, and often apparently contradictory demands of its “own” women, which can often cause confusion and problems for the woman involved.

Miranda, as a character in Renaissanc…

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… Prospero: Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since,

Thy father was Duke of Milan and

A prince of power.

Miranda: Sir, are not you my father?

Prospero: Thy mother was a piece of virtue, and

She said thou wast my daughter; and thy father

Was Duke of Milan, and his only heir

And princess no worse issued.

Works Cited

Brown, Paul. This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine: The Tempest and the discourse of colonialism.” New York: Dollimore and Sinfield, 1985.

Kermode, Jack. Political Shakespeaere: New Essays in Cultural Materialism. Boston: Manchester University Press, 1985.

Lamming, George. The Pleasures of Exile. London: Allison and Busby, 1984.

Mies, Maria. Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale. London: Zed Books, 1986.

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