How do both The Stranger by Albert Camus and A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen explore free will?

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From the very first line of Albert Camus’ The Stranger, “Maman died today,” (Camus 3) the quirky character of Meursault is shown to be different. The same holds true with Henrik Ibsen’s classic play, A Doll’s House, concerning Nora, a mother who abandons her family in order to pursue her own happiness. Both characters, while set in opposing societies, exhibit similar characteristics: a courageous, if not reckless, pursuit of happiness, be it physical in the case of Meursault or mental for Nora, and the relentless disregard of social standards and norms in the chase for free will. Both Ibsen and Camus use the pervading theme of free will to evolve the characters of Nora and Meursault, specifically incorporating ideas such as existentialism …show more content…
Nora, unlike Meursault, is contained by a mental block, a societal influence that dresses her, feeds her, makes her dance the Tarantula, and ultimately loathe her place in the literal Dolls house. Nora, called many pet names such as “a little spend-thrift” (Ibsen 2), “a squirrel” (2), and her husband, Torvald’s “little songbird” (25), faces constant reminders of her oppression. Like Meursault, Nora yearns for the all-encompassing feeling of free will, and once she gets a taste, the ache becomes a severe painful longing until, as Torvald accurately predicts, she dances “as if [her] life depended on it” (48).

Both Nora and Meursault act outrageously in the viewpoint of their communities in the quest for free will. As Torvald’s wife, Nora is expected to “keep the house beautifully and have everything just as Torvald likes it!”(13). However, after experiencing the freedom and power that her financial deal with Krogstad gives her, Nora finds the dollhouse she once found solace in confining and suffocating. Following the unraveling of her secret business transaction and the turn of unexpected events, Nora finally plucks up the courage to take life for herself, leaving her home, husband, and children in her wake. While Nora’s society degrades strong women for not being obedient wives, Nora forsakes the comfort in social norms to determine her own future and capture the remaining strings of free will that survived…