Trifles and A Dollhouse

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The plays, Trifles and A Dollhouse use the literary tool of symbolism to portray the way women were treated throughout the nineteenth century. Susan Glaspell uses the bird cage and the dead bird to signify the role and life of women in marriage and society, whereas Henrik Ibsen uses the dollhouse. These symbols allow the reader to recognize the plays main similarities in the treatment of women, such as men dismissing women as trivial and treating them like property; however, the plays portray the women’s lifestyles as different which seal their fates. To begin, in both plays the men dismiss the women as trivial. In Trifles, when Mrs. Wright is being held in jail for the alleged murder of her husband, she worries about the cold weather…show more content…
In portraying women as objects to be owned, Glaspell uses the bird cage and the dead bird, while Ibsen uses the dollhouse. Glaspell proves this point in Trifles, when Mrs. Hale declares that “It never seemed a very cheerful place” (Glaspell 918). Essentially, what this says is that Mrs. Wright was living in an environment where she was imprisoned –caged like a bird –by her husband and he tried to make her identity an extension of his own. Subsequently, Mrs. Hale says, “. . . she used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster,” which implies that all the life was strangled out of her after marriage (Glaspell 920). Similarly, A Dollhouse illustrates ownership when Torvald says, “Is my little squirrel bursting about” (Ibsen 1205)? The reference to his wife as an animal is extremely condescending and indicates his power and authority over her. In response to her husband, Nora acts childishly and therefore, he continues to treat her like a childish woman, to dominate. Here, Nora proclaims to her husband, “I mean that I was simply transferred from papa’s hands into yours” (Ibsen 1247).Torvald treats his wife as if she is a doll to be owned, which in the end causes Nora to realize that she is entrapped within the walls of her own dollhouse. In contrast, the lifestyles the women live in Trifles are

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