Nella Larsen: Passing, Quicksand, and The Stories
Ibsen and Larsen and Women
Though written almost fifty years apart, and by two authors from completely different backgrounds, Nella Larsen's novel Quicksand and Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House (also known by the title A Doll House) address similar issues concerning the oppression of women by society, and particularly by the institution of marriage. The paths that Helga Crane of Quicksand and Nora Torvald of A Doll's House follow throughout their respective works are related in theme but vary in events. However, each travels the other's road backwards. Nora lives most of her life under her husband's control but leaves him by the end of the play to seek a free life, while Helga begins the novel deserting Naxos for a free life, only to end in an even worse oppression as the wife of a minister in Alabama.
It is hard to imagine that these two women could possibly have anything in common when one considers their backgrounds. Nora is a pampered Norwegian housewife, married to a successful bank man with three children. She initially comes across as a lighthearted, inexperienced child. "What do I care about tiresome society?" she asks Doctor Rank in the first act (Ibsen 134). While she does not seem to mind the way her husband...
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