Comparing Men's Assumptions in Susan Glaspell's Trifles and Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House

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Men's Assumptions in Trifles and A Doll House

There are many similarities in the relationships between men and women in Susan Glaspell's Trifles and Henrik Ibsen's A Doll House. The conflict in each play is the result of incorrect assumptions made by the males of a male-dominated society. The men believe that women focus on trivial matters and are incapable of intelligent thinking, while the women quietly prove the men's assumptions wrong.

In the plays Trifles and A Doll House men believe women only focus on trivial matters. While Mrs. Wright is being held in jail for the murder of her husband, she is concerned about the cold weather causing her jars of fruit to freeze and burst. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale discuss Mrs. Wright's
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Another example showing that Helmer believes his wife concentrates on unimportant matters is the way he treats her after she returns from shopping. Helmer says, "Hasn't Miss Sweet-Tooth been breaking rules in town to-day? . . . There, there, of course I was only joking" (Isben 1.57-65). While Helmer says he is only joking about Nora eating sweets, Nora lies and says she would not go against his wishes. This suggests Helmer has rules that he expects Nora to follow. This example shows the childlike behavior Nora resorts to because of Helmer's rules. In both plays the men treat women as if they are not intelligent enough to think beyond simple matters.

A second similarity between Trifles and A Doll House is that women appear to conform to the men's expectations. In the play A Doll House, Nora conforms to her father and husband's expectations. Nora says, "When I was home with papa, he told me his opinion about everything, and so I had the same opinions; and if I differed from his opinion I concealed the fact, because he would not have liked it" (Isben 3.280). Nora's life has been shaped by a dominant father, as well as her submissive attitude. This also set a pattern for her marriage with Helmer. On the surface, Nora plays the role of a loving wife and mother. Nora plays with the children and does the things that Helmer likes. Nora says to Helmer, "You arranged everything according to your

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