In past Literature women where always supporting characters for their male protagonist which was mirroring reality because they we like in the literature they job was to support and care for the man and his children. But these two plays Cherry Orchid and A Doll's House both had women as their main characters. So I am going to be investigating the different portrayals of women in the two plays and also comment on their personalities and the actions that they take. Also I will note why the authors chose to portray the women as they did.
At the beginning of A Doll's House, Nora is portrayed as a completely happy and content woman. She responds affectingly to all of Torvald's teasing, and she seems very excited when she talks about Torvald's new job and how much more money they will be making. She is also happy to meet her old friend. She does not seem to be bothered at all about her doll-like existence, in which she is coddled pampered, and patronized. But secretly She defies Torvald in small yet meaningful waysby eating macaroons and then lying to him about it, for instance. She also swears, just for the pleasure she derives from minor rebellions against societal standards.
As the play progresses, we are told more about Nora's Past and when she is talking to Mrs. Linde she reveals a very important secret to prove to Mrs. Linde that she is more than just a silly girl. She reveals that when Torvald was sick she took out a loan from Krogstad; and this proves that she does have some intelligence and understanding with business and debt. She had continued to pay off that debt quietly and effectively which shows she was determined to pay off her bill.
But at the end of the play after Krogstad's blackmail and the fallout that perused is when Nora changes into a totally different woman; independent and courageous woman who thinks for herself. It takes the selfish and almost vicious reaction when he finds out the secret for Nora to realize that that in addition to her literal dancing and singing tricks, she has been putting on a show throughout her marriage; it simply wasn't real. She has been forced to be someone she is not in order to fulfill the role that Torvald, her father, and society at large have expected of her.
Whilst the main character from Cherry Orchid Ranevsky is a character which is always fleeing and running away; both physically and mentally. Physically, she is always fleeing from location: the play opens with her flight from Paris, home to Russia, after a suicide attempt provoked by her lover. We learn later that a similar flight occurred five years ago, after the closely spaced deaths of her son and her husband. The play will end with her fleeing again, from the estate she has now lost, back to Paris and the arms of the very same lover who left her. And she runs away mentally from her tragic adult life and seeking refuge in her memories of her childhood. Ranevsky identifies herself with the cherry orchard, and she says in Act Two that if the orchard is sold, she might as well be sold with it. The orchard also symbolizes her childhood memories And Her rejections of Lopakhin's business proposals as being "vulgar" also seems a willful ignorance on her part, a stubborn refusal to accept the unpleasant facts about her situation and a flight from a fact about her current life, which is that she is impoverished and in debt.
But although Ranevsky is portrayed as a broken and mentally unstable woman she is also portrayed as a kind and generous person, who is well loved by her family but also by her servants and Loparjhin who says she has done many kind things for and who also comments on her "irresistible eyes". Unlike Nora's character in Cherry orchid Ranevsky doesn't go through any major and magnificent metamorphosis but remains the same damaged and fleeing woman she has been for the last 6 years.
Both these plays have rather modern portrayals of women especially Nora because although she at the beginning is portrayed as a obedient housewife but she at the end becomes her own woman and leaves her husband to prove her independence-this type of portal of a independent woman was so controversial that it was banned and actresses refused to play the part of Nora. And I think he chose to portray Nora like that because he could see the growing number of the women wanting to become more independent and liberated from their menial and tedious roles within society. The play is basically a commentary on the social role of women; what women were like then and what they have to become like. And this is done quite effectively because Nora becomes like the average woman that we have now- independent and freethinking. Whist on the other had Anton Chekhov's portrayal of Ranevsky isn't as controversial and a reimaging of the women role's role in society. His is chose to portray her as a emotionally unstable woman tormented by her memories. And this is done very effectively because she seems like a real person and although Cherry Orchids was written as a comedy she makes the play seem more realistic. I think that Anton based the character on a person that her really know because she is so dynamic. I think his intention was to show the more delicate and sensitive side of women; and women that have suffered loss.
As you can see the portrayal of women in the two plays are completely different but they both help the author tell a captivating story that is more realistic.
- A Dolls House by Hendrik Ibsen
- Cherry Orchid by Anton Chekhov