Compare/contrast two characters: Edna in The Awakening (novel) by Kate Chopin, and Nora in A Doll's House (play) by Henrik Ibsen.

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House present two strong female protagonists that are at the same time similar and different.

Edna is a woman looking to find herself, presented with the opportunity to do so in a society dominated by social conventions, as well as husbands or fathers. Edna, who is married to a successful business man and has two children, goes with the family on a vacation. While her husband returns to his job, Edna and the children stay behind, and Edna becomes involved in a romance with Robert.

Edna goes through a life-altering experience which changes the way she views the world and her place in it. However, things with Robert do not work out—how could they, really, given the time and place, and her responsibilities if not to her husband then to her children; one day Edna walks into the ocean and never returns.

Nora is also a woman married to a successful business man. She, too, has two children, and has a wonderful life.

Like Edna, Nora also confronts a life-altering event: she risks everything to save her husband's life when he is ill, but breaks the law to do so. When Torvald finds out what his wife has done, he cares not that she saved his life, but that it might damage his reputation. For the first time Nora sees her husband more clearly, as well as the lie that she is living. Like Edna, she awakens to a new world, along with a new sense of self...or more accurately, the realization that she does not know herself at all. In both stories, both women choose to leave husband and children behind.

Whereas Edna chooses to end her life, Nora decides to leave her husband and family, believing she cannot be a good parent if she needs to grow up herself. Edna chooses to end it all; Nora looks to a new beginning in her life.

Read the study guide:
The Awakening

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