What are the secrets in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and Susan Glaspell's Trifles?

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The women in A Doll's House and Trifles keep secrets in order to protect someone from harm. They believe they are doing the right thing in keeping these secrets, since not taking action would result in harmful consequences.

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In both A Doll’s House and Trifles, the women keep secrets to protect people they care about since they believe the secrets could bring destruction if they got out.

Nora, for instance, lies to Torvald about where she obtained the money to go on a much-needed vacation to help...

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him recuperate. He believes her father gave them the money, when in fact Nora borrowed it. Her act is illegal because she forges her father’s signature on the loan, which is another lie to cover up the first. Now, as Nora works hard to pay back the loan, she tells Torvald she is being secretive because she is preparing for Christmas. Once Krogstad tries to blackmail Nora, she is forced again to lie to her husband in order to keep the original lies intact. Why all the secrecy? Nora knows that Torvald would never accept his wife working to pay for him; he never would have agreed to go on the trip if he had known she had borrowed the money. His pride and his chauvinistic attitude get in his way, so Nora feels she has no choice but to lie to him to save his life. In essence, she lies to save Torvald from himself. Then, she lies to save herself.

Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters lie by withholding evidence because they sympathize with Mrs. Wright and wish to protect her from any further harm. They also feel guilty that they never spent time with Mrs. Wright before her husband was killed. When the women survey the half-completed chores in the house, they sense that something is wrong but are unsure what it is. Upon discovering Mrs. Wright’s quilt which has only one square that is carelessly sewed, the women suspect something but do not say it aloud. They do not wish to call attention to the quilt which suggests that at one point in her sewing, Mrs. Wright was upset. In fact, Mrs. Hale covers up this fact by re-sewing the square in the quilt. Finally, when the women discover the dead bird that is carefully wrapped and saved, along with the broken bird-cage door, they deduce that Mr. Wright must have killed the bird that Mrs. Wright loved so much. They hide the bird from the men because they know that Mrs. Wright felt driven to kill her husband after enduring his cruelty. The women silently come to the decision to protect Mrs. Wright by hiding this evidence and by not mentioning it at all to the men.

In pondering whether these secrets do any harm, it is important to consider the end result. For Nora, she loses her marriage and children, but she also gains an independence that she never had before. She intends to become self-sufficient and discover her true self, but she believes she must sacrifice being with her children to do so. She believes Torvald’s claim that she is a corrupting influence on them, and she wishes to put their welfare ahead of her own. Therefore, she takes on a difficult journey. For Mrs. Wright, she avoids a jail sentence and the ignominy of a reputation for being a murderer. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters wish to give her a second chance at life, one without grief. The three women keep their secrets because they think there is no alternative. Nora is intimidated by Torvald and Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are sympathetic to Mrs. Wright’s situation.

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