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Analyse events to compare and contrast sexual politics in the domestic arena of the...

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tekab | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted September 10, 2012 at 7:57 PM via web

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Analyse events to compare and contrast sexual politics in the domestic arena of the plays Tartuffe by Moliere and A Doll's House by Ibsen.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 28, 2012 at 11:30 PM (Answer #1)

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In both Ibsen's A Doll's House and Moliere's Tartuffe, there are domestic situations controlled by the patriarchs who demand social conformity from their wives. From the beginning of both dramas, it is apparent that this control is exerted over the women and they are of no serious consideration. 

1. In Scene 4 of Tartuffe, for instance, Orgon learns from Dorine that his wife has had a serious fever, yet he is more concerned about Tartuffe. For, even though Dorine informs him that Tartuffe is "bursting with health" in contrast to his ailing wife, Orgon laments, "Poor fellow!" This diminution of the mistress of the home is repeated in Ibsen's play as well as in Act I Helmer patronizes his wife with such sobriquets as "my little squirrel" and "little featherhead."  He even exerts control over his wife on such insignificant as her eating macaroons, so she must hide them in her pockets.

2. Both patriarchs conduct their affairs without consulting their wives' advice.  In Act 3, for instance, Nora comments to her husband,    

"We have been married for eight years. Doesn't it occur to you that this is the first time that you and I, husband and wife, are having a serious talk?"

Likewise, Elmire cannot get Orgon to seriously consider her report of Tartuffe's lascivious conduct and lewd suggests to her.  Instead, Orgon scolds her for her "impudence."  In Act 4, Scene 3, Elmire tells him,

"I am amazed, and don't know what to say; your blindness simply takes my breath away...."

3. Finally, however, Orgon does agree to hide under a table and have the lewd conduct of Tartuffe demonstrated to him, whereas Helmer fails to recognize the unselfishness and love of Nora as she raised the money for him to travel where his health could improve. In Moliere's play, then, domestic harmony is restored, but in Ibsen's drama, there is no restoration of harmony; Nora parts from her home and domestic life.

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