Compare the theme of self-awareness in A Doll's House and Sweat.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I feel as though we see Delia Jones develop self-awareness in her story long before Nora Helmer develops it in hers. In Sweat, Delia understands that she is wronged and abused by her husband, Sykes, and she knows that her income from taking in laundry has essentially kept them in food and shelter for the bulk of their years together. When Sykes threatens her this time, though, she seizes "the iron skillet from the stove and [strikes] a defensive post," which really surprises him because she has never done anything so bold before. Delia vows that she will remain until she's "toted out foot foremost" (i.e. dead).

Nora, in a similar fashion in A Doll's House, is also responsible, on some level, for supporting her husband and is aware of what she's done to help him and why. However, Nora doesn't realize how unappreciated she is until very late in the play. It takes Torvald finding out about and reacting to an illegal loan she took out long ago for her to finally see just how little she is valued. Once she realizes this, she seems to begin to truly comprehend her own value and what has been denied her by her father, first, and then her husband.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team