Essay, Research Paper: Doll's House By Insen

Literature: Shakespeare

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It has been said that great works of drama have a universality about them, a
timelessness all their own. Many important plays have similarities to one
another regardless of the time in which they were written because of this fact.
Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and Harvey Fierstein's On Tidy Endings are
certainly no exception to that rule. Although they were written over a hundred
years apart they do show some similarities. An examination of the main
characters, foil characters and taboo themes dealt with in each play will make
these parities more visible. Themes are universal in nature. A play can have
themes about relationships, family, greed, secrets, among many others, all of
which have been around since the beginning of the storytelling tradition. The
themes dealt with in the plays On Tidy Endings and A Doll's House have more
similarities than one might realize. Firstly, there is the fact that both plays
deal with themes controversial in their times. A Doll's House deals with the
themes of a woman fulfilling her dreams and her dishonesty towards her husband,
infrequently discussed subjects in the late 1800s. On Tidy Endings deals with
the themes of AIDS and homosexual relationships, which, in the late 1980s, was
not a common topic of conversation. This similarity is an important factor in
the fame of both plays. Another, perhaps more obvious similarity in theme is
that many of them are the same. Relationships, honesty, family, crises and
letting go are all common and major themes to both A Doll's House and On Tidy
Endings. In addition to the themes the foil characters reveal similar
information in the plays. Although foil characters in general reveal similar
information, the similarities in A Doll's House and On Tidy Endings are more
than just general. Firstly, the character of Mrs. Linde in A Doll's House
reveals Nora's choices to her, what she can do about her situation, and what she
should do about it. In On Tidy Endings, the character of June is the parallel to
Mrs. Linde. June informs Marion of her options regarding her own situation. In
both plays, the relationships that Mrs. Linde and June are most interested in
are those of the main characters. One could almost think of June and Mrs. Linde
as relationship therapists. Other common foil characters would be Jim and
Krogstad. They are both more involved with the main female character than with
the main male character. An example of this is the secret that Nils and Nora
share about the loan in A Doll's House, and that Jim and Marion obviously share
some knowledge about one another that others in On Tidy Endings do not know.
Similarities on the level of foil characters may seem slightly less important to
the overall comparison of the two plays, but the foil characters are an
important feature. Lastly, the main characters within the plays On Tidy Endings
and A Doll's House share many common aspects. The main characters in A Doll's
House are Nora and Torvald Helmer, a husband and wife whose marriage is based
mainly on secrets and pageantry. The main characters of On Tidy Endings are
Arthur and Marion, a gay man and his lover's ex-wife whose relationship is based
mainly on pleasantries and improprieties. The two main characters of each play
all have different views on their relationships. Not only are the relationships
similar, but the characters themselves show some likenesses. Torvald Helmer in A
Doll's House, for instance, is ignorant of the fact that his wife, Nora, is not
happy in their relationship. Torvald believes that Nora is as madly in love with
him as he is with her. The character of Torvald is matched in On Tidy Endings by
the character of Marion. Marion is a sweet and somewhat naive character who is
oblivious to the true state of her relationships with almost everyone in her
life. For starters, Marion misjudged the extent of her relationship with her
ex-husband to the point where she still has not let go of him, even after the
divorce, his new relationship with a man and his death. Also, Marion is somewhat
delusional as to her friendship with her ex-husband's new lover, Arthur.
Although the characters of Torvald and Marion are alike in many ways, Nora and
Arthur are considerably more alike. Nora, in A Doll's House, is a weak-willed,
childlike character at the beginning of the play and she believes that she does
love Torvald and hopes that he will prove himself to her. Arthur, in On Tidy
Endings, is a grieving widower at the beginning of the play who is not sure how
to deal with his emotions. One commonality between Arthur and Nora is that
tragedy makes them stronger. Arthur got the courage to confront Marion about her
naivetй only after his husband passed away. Nora confronted Torvald after
he ranted and raved about her behaviour and conduct. Nora and Arthur opened
Torvald's and Marion's eyes to the realities of their relationships by using
cold, hard facts. To digress a little, Torvald and Marion both realize the error
of their ways only after the fact, when the damage has already been done. Marion
is given a chance to make up for her mistakes, but Torvald is not. The likeness
between the plays' main characters is surprising. In short, the similarities
between the plays A Doll's House and On Tidy Endings are observable and surely
endless if one took to studying the plays at greater depth. What is it that
makes these plays great? Is it their dramatic flair? Is it the depth of the
characters, the seriousness of the issues, the drab settings? What could make
any piece of work seem like it was written by Shakespeare himself? I believe the
answer to all of these questions is to take a theme that people have been
hearing about and living with for ages, modernize it and add a little bit of
shock to get the heart going. These works are both influential in that they do
take a theme as old as time itself and put a contemporary twist on it. I think
both of these plays will be influencing young playwrights and people in general
for a long time to come. All great works of drama have something in common-they
teach us something profound about ourselves and humankind in general.
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