In Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House and Henry James’ novella Daisy Miller, the main characters embody two controversial topics. The roles of the female and an American were quite different in the time period that these pieces of literature were written in then in the present. These controversies have many similarities and differences, and they both affect their own literature in a different way. A Doll’s House and Daisy Miller focus on the societal roles of the female and American roles in different time periods; each story embodies a different controversy that both teach similar lessons.
A Doll’s House was written in the Victorian Era, a time when women only took care of the house and raised the children. The thought of a women rebelling against her husband and wanting to do something else besides housework was intolerable, creating the controversy seen in this play. Henrik Ibsen wrote this play based on a young woman named Nora who wanted one thing: freedom from her husband. Nora wanted to stand up against society and form her own opinion without being a puppet on a string controlled by the man of the house. When Torvald said “before all else, you’re a wife and mother” (Ibsen 1186) and Nora fired back with “before all else, I’m a human being” (Ibsen 1186),Ibsen was a suggesting a time changing idea that women had inalienable human rights that were equal to men. Similar to A Doll’s House, Daisy Miller also had controversial ideas.
Daisy Miller is a young American travelling the world at her pleasure. On her trip around Europe, she finds herself in the middle of a love triangle not acceptable for this time period. From the European perspectives, she was just a naïve American flirt who craved attention. Americans played a huge role in this novella; two of the main characters, Daisy and Winterbourne, were from America. However, Americans were not perceived well in the story. In the Miller family, each member played an allegory for Americas, mostly not good ones. Daisy Miller was willing to abide by European customs, even after being told by Mrs. Walker “It may be enchanting, dear child, but it is not the custom here” (James 48) after she spent hours walking with the two gentlemen unchaperoned. Henry James was an American writer, and he wanted to create controversy with this book because he wanted to enlighten Americans on what foreigners thought of them. Daisy Miller and A Doll’s House created different controversies that had similar aspects.
Two different stories with two different motifs can have similar lessons, and that is exactly how Daisy Miller and A Doll’s House are. Whereas female roles in society are seen in both stories, A Doll’s House focuses more on pure feminism then Daisy Miller does. However, Daisy Miller has the role of an American in the world whereas there is nothing about this in A Doll’s House. The two stories have different motifs, but both created controversy over the writing. Furthermore, each author created the literature to teach a lesson to society saying that not everyone needs to follow society exactly but rather dance to the beat of their own drum. The differing stories have feminism in each of them, and also show how women have their own rights as human beings. Henrik Ibsen and Henry James both did a wonderful job of portraying their characters in a way that enlightened the society of that particular time period. These two stories made an impact in the lives of both females and Americans because it is finally giving them a chance to make it in this cruel world.
A Doll’s House and Daisy Miller are two controversial pieces of literature that focus on the societal roles of females and Americans. The two stories were written to start a controversy over how these people were being treated and how society could react to this. The authors of the stories, Henrik Ibsen and Henry James, were able to write stories that taught a lesson to everyone who read it, making these pieces of literature a must read. Times were much different back then, and these stories are ways to reflect on the progress that has been made on equality since the days of Nora and Daisy.
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