A Doll's House

A Comparison of Female Leads: Agnès and Nora College

Moliere’s The School for Wives and Ibsen’s A Doll’s House were written centuries apart, but both have plots that feature women in less-than-ideal situations that defy social norms in order to get out of it. School for Wives is a comedy, and A Doll’s House is a drama, yet comparisons between the two reveal strong similarities regarding themes of deception, defiance, and love, or the lack of it. They are plays about the gap between expectation and reality when it comes to love and marriage. They are about men who expect submission, fragility, and naivety from their wives, and are shocked and upset when they are faced with anything contrary to their expectations. Ultimately, the women in both plays get the chance to break through the strict rules of femininity set upon women at the time. What makes these two plays different is the way that this self-actualization comes to these women and how much they sacrifice to get it.

According to both plays, an ideal wife should honor and obey their husbands, because their husbands are the ones who are supposed to educate them. Education is a key plot point in both plays. The central female, Agnès, in Molière’s The School for Wives, is expected by Arnolphe to read and obey The Maxims of...

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