A Doll's House + The Handmaid's Tale Essay Year 11 English Extension 1 Essay

890 words - 4 pages

ESSAY – SILENT VOICES: A Doll’s House & The Handmaid’s Tale
Composers challenge the values of their individual contexts through transgressive characters, forms and literary devices, thus creating space and agency for silent voices. This idea is depicted in the play A Doll’s House written by Henrik Ibsen and the novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Atwood and Ibsen uphold the values within their respective 1970s - 80s context and 19th – 20th century context. Atwood’s context of radical feminism and human rights significantly influences the oppressive setting of her dystopian text. Similarly, Ibsen’s shifting from a suppressed country i.e. Norway to a liberal one i.e. Germany impacted the aspect of realism in his text. Both composers use various language devices to show and create a sense of rebellion separately through the characters and their respective texts, effectuating the development of individuality and independence, essentially forming voice of the character and the text.
Composers depict oppressed individuals, devoid of voice, as often discovering their voice through rebellion. A Doll’s House and The Handmaid’s Tale explore this idea, through the sense of rebelliousness within the oppressed character. Henrik Ibsen portrays the life perceived reality the protagonist of A Doll’s House, Nora experiences. She dwells in a patriarchal society, infantilised and objectified by her husband Torvald, who addresses her with nicknames such as “squirrel” and “skylark”, resulting in her dehumanising through the use of animal imagery. Torvald’s way of communicating with Nora cements his dominance over her as a man, when he replies “Nice of you – because you let your husband have his way? All right, you little rogue, I know you didn’t mean it that way.” Ibsen’s diction in terms of the use of the harsh word “rogue” shows the little respect Torvald has for Nora, calling her unprincipled if she was to influence him to do something, again showing his superiority over her in all aspects. However, Nora is aware of the lack of freedom she is given in her household and shows some resistance towards the restriction Torvald places upon her, shown in “She stuffs the bag of macaroons in her pocket and wipes her mouth.” Ibsen’s diction exemplifies the fact that Nora is eating the macaroons as opposed to Torvald’s orders, the word “stuffing” emphasising on her agility in placing the macaroons away from Torvald’s sight. Thus, Nora’s act of rebellion against Torvald allows her to have opinions and act upon them, essential in the formation of her voice. Similarly, the character Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale is shown to resolute to rebel against authority in the dystopian society of Gilead, in order to maintain a sense of independence and...

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