Please discuss the idea that Nora/the “oppressed” person is a willing victim.Interested in how this idea relates to "Trifles" by Susan Glaspell.  I have to develope a Thesis statement that...

Please discuss the idea that Nora/the “oppressed” person is a willing victim.

Interested in how this idea relates to "Trifles" by Susan Glaspell.  I have to develope a Thesis statement that correlates the oppressed person idea within the two plays. 

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nora's character is A Doll's House is a very interesting one for several reasons.  (Note that this was an extremely controversial play for its time, the late 1800s.)

First, Nora is—to a point—a reflection of women during the time in which Ibsen wrote his play: they were generally submissive and obedient. Second, Nora goes through a transformation that makes her more believable to us today; the transformation is brought on by extenuating circumstances: she must save her husband's life at any cost. Last, Nora leaves at the end, something else extremely unusual for a woman of that time: she leaves her children behind (not well-received by some theater-goers), and departs toward an uncertain future .

The "little-girl/obedient role" Nora plays throughout the play and the way she almost always acts—as everyone expects her to without question, is what makes Nora oppressed. She is not expected to think for herself, and when she steps "out of line," Torvald brings her back as he would a child: with admonishments and gentle scoldings.

Nora is willing in that she adheres to the social restrictions placed upon women at the time (to the public eye). She dresses up for Torvald, as he requests, for the masquerade party. She "wheedles" money from Torvald for Christmas presents by begging and "pouting," and sneaks candy and lies about it to Torvald, both as if she were a little girl.

Nora is willingly oppressed in that sometimes this behavior helps her to achieve her own ends, but I don't think she sees it as manipulation. She is willingly oppressed by Krogstad's extortion, but she would do anything to save Torvald's life. In many ways, in acting like a child, she really doesn't know better; and by doing what Torvald asks, she is comfortable and cared for.

The social mores of the time require Nora to step into the role of the oppressed woman, but necessity requires that she take adult and independent steps to save her husband's life and deal with the frightening consequences until the end. It is only then that she finally sees the truth of what true love can do (with Krogstad and Kristine Linde), and discover that Torvald cares more for himself than for her, even after all she has done for him.  At this point she defies social expectations, refuses to be a willing victim any longer, and leaves.

For Minnie Wright in "Trifles," (written by Susan Glaspell, at the turn of the century, based on a true story), we also "see' an oppressed woman (though the picture we get of her comes from the sympathetic eyes of women in her community—as Minnie is already in jail when the play begins).

Minnie lives with a man (Richard) who has a decent reputation in a man's world, but is hard and uncaring when studied through the eyes of Minnie's neighbor, Mrs. Hale.  Subtle hints in the conversation of the men give insights to what kind of man Wright was (uncommunicative, demanding, harsh), and yet by listening to the men in general, we can see that society has little time for, or understanding of, the hard life of a woman and the responsibilities that fill her days.

Minnie is oppressed, and if it is willingly, it is because it is expected as her only means of survival. She works hard; her husband provides little, if any, kindness toward her. She has no children. Neighbors don't visit because her house is such an unhappy place, and we get the sense that Mr. Wright has killed not only the canary, but the joy in Minnie (as was once seen in her singing as a young woman).

In both stories, the women are oppressed, expected by husband and a male-dominated society to conform. Both women do so for a period of time, each in her own way. However, by the end of each story, we discover that Nora and Minnie both come to a breaking point: Nora leaves her husband, and Minnie—it would seem—kills her husband.

Both women are willing victims to a point. They cannot survive easily without their husbands, and for a long period of time, they both allow society and their spouse to dictate the quality of their existence. Nora seems to do so unknowingly and perhaps this is why her awakening is less volatile than Minnie's.  Minnie conforms until the death of the canary at her husband's hands: at this point she seems to have snapped.  She does not kill him in a heated rage, however, but with premeditation.

So while both women are oppressed and willing victims for a time, eventually each arrives at a point where she can no longer survive under these circumstances.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ok, this one is different than Minnie in Triffles in many ways. Nora was not an abused woman. In fact, she was quite pampered and well-kept in a home in which her only duty was to keep her husband amused, her children educated, and her friends entertained. When she made the decision of trying to be useful, she realized that her role as a "doll" to both her father and husband was so solid, that they could never take her seriously. Even the two big sacrifices that she did for her father and husband respectively were dejected as crazy ideas.

In her case, the oppression comes from society itself, more so than from one man using her as a target of abuse. Her husband had very little consideration for her, and hardly would have abused her.

However, in terms of oppression and why she would be a willing participant, her case demonstrates that she is a woman who had been content with her role as a family doll, and she was happy with acting her part at first. However, as her situation got more and more under pressure and she needed to (for once) seek out for help and support, there was nobody there. This is when she finally simply snapped, only she snapped by leaving the home and maybe ruining her future as a woman who abandoned her family.

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A Doll's House

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