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Women in the Literature

October 30th, 2020
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Diversity and exuberance of the literary art help to reflect and describe the life of people from different angles. Various literary genres provide completely diverse views at the same problem and show some particular aspect of it. Such genres as drama, poems, and romantic novel reveal the inner world of the hero, his/her feelings, fears, or dreams. At the same time, detective novels, fantasy, and horror fiction aim to evoke a completely different set of emotions. Writers and authors use particular stylistic figures and literary techniques to imbue a new meaning into the text, to make it more profound. Sometimes, even a small piece of fiction writing can disclose the main idea and theme explicitly and vividly enough. The analysis of the stylistic, linguistic features and content of A Dolls House by Henrik Ibsen and The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant can help to identify a set of techniques, novelties of the author, and peculiarities of the genre, through which writers successfully and skillfully present the main problem and meaning of these two texts.

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Henrik Ibsen and Guy de Maupassant are considered the masters of word, whose works are interesting, involving, funny, tragic, and thought provoking at the same time. A Dolls House and The Necklace belong to completely different literary genres since the first piece of writing is a play, and the text by Guy de Maupassant is believed to be a short story. Not only do the structural peculiarities of the masterpieces differ but also their thematic aspects outline two individual problems. A Dolls House is a story of the woman who is treated like a child by her husband. The main character, Nora, pretends to be a silly, light-headed and childish woman to please her man. In the reality, Nora is a sensible person who, unfortunately, cannot develop herself, broaden her knowledge, and express her personality. In his play, Henrik Ibsen underlines the problems of inequality between men and women in society, the defects of the judicial system, and the relations of wife and husband in the family. At the same time, Guy de Maupassant chooses inequality of social classes in society of that time as the central theme of his story. The Necklace depicts the life of ordinary but not a very rich family. The main heroine, Mathilde, dreams about aristocratic life, balls, and entertainment. In her pursuit of luxury and wealth, the woman loses everything and she is forced to live in poverty. The author criticizes the difference of life quality in lower and higher social classes. By using numerous metaphors, epithets, and plot twists, Guy de Maupassant illustrates that aristocratic life is a deceitful mask that hides only emptiness and indifference.

Although the play is considerably longer that the short story, both writers fully develop the main idea and manage to insert all necessary details to make the text interesting, involving, and emotional. The plot of A Dolls House started with the description of the setting for the first act. Nora is preparing for Christmas when her old friend Mrs. Linde visits her. At the same time, her husband Torvald decides to fire his worker, Krogstad. Krogstad, who has two children to take care of, tries to do everything to save his job. He threatens Nora to tell the truth about the story that happened to the woman some time ago. Torvald was seriously ill, and Nora had to get a substantial sum of money to save her husband. The woman had to falsify her fathers date of death to obtain the necessary amount of money. Krogstad helped Nora at that time, and he knew all details. The man wants Nora to influence her husband otherwise he will tell everything to Torvald. Although Nora does not want Helmer to get involved into this story, she is sure that he will protect her in every situation. However, when despite all Noras attempts to prevent it he finds the truth, Torvald turns away from the wife and despises her. When Nora realizes that all this time she has lived in the dolls house and saw the real nature of her man, she decides to leave her family and to search for new values, aims, and beliefs. At the same time, in the short story The Necklace, events develop more rapidly. Mathilde is born in a poor family, but she has always dreamt about aristocratic balls, meetings, routine, and so on. She entered a loveless marriage with a low-paid clerk. However, every day of her life is a torture for Mathilde. Once, her husband brought an invitation from his Minister to the ball. Mathilde seems to be not happy about that, since she does not have the proper dress and jewels. The woman borrows a diamond necklace from her friend, Mrs. Forestier, but she loses it at the party. To buy a new necklace, Loisel borrows money, and he will have to pay the debt for ten years. In the end, Mathilde discovers that the borrowed diamond necklace is just an imitation.

Although A Dolls House and The Necklace match their genre characteristics, the authors incorporate some peculiar features and novelties into both texts. Henrik Ibsen plays with the plot by removing the most important idea out of its frame. Readers know from the beginning that something huge happened before and that it can change Noras life, but all the details are revealed in the middle of the story. At the same time, some critics consider the end of the play unfinished and alternative. Nevertheless, the author himself denies any other ending: I think she will come back after a time and try again the experiment with Helmer. But it will fail… The man is impossible. She did right to leave him (Goodman 222). What is more, Ibsen introduces two opposite plot lines: Nora and Mrs. Linde. In the beginning, Nora is happy and she has everything, while Mrs. Linde comes completely broken and depressed. Gradually, the end of Nora family comes, and Mrs. Linde approaches her happiness. The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant meets all requirements of this genre. Although he was considered a master of this genre, Maupassant usually experimented with the form of his texts (Goyet 7). The author uses the omniscient narration to create the general picture of the story. At the same time, free indirect style of the narration can be also seen in the story since the author repeatedly describes the feelings of the main characters (Wood 6).

Main characters of both stories are not one-dimensional but rather deep and many-sided. The main heroine of A Dolls House, Nora, pretends to be childish, simple, and light-headed. Although her father and husband have always treated her this way, she turns out to be a sensible, brave, and kind woman: you have never understood me. I have been greatly wronged, Torvald–first by papa and then by you (Ibsen 113). Torvald accuses her and her father of wasting money, but Nora saves every single shilling to pay the debt. Although she is reasonable, the woman is accustomed to live the life of the doll: she knows nothing about law, about her children, and other principle things. Only in the end of the story, wonderful thing happened (Ibsen) and Nora realized how wrong she was. The woman is complete opposite to other characters present in the play. Nora is trapped within the “dollhouse” that is her physical home. Torvald, her husband, has built a wonderful little life for his wonderful doll wife, and their wonderful dolly children (Khan). While Nora pretends to be silly and weak, her husband feigns his love to the woman. Torvald thinks only about his status and his career: I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora–bear sorrow and want for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his honour for the one he loves (Ibsen 120). The man does not love Nora, he is jealous of her, like one of his possessions. There are some other characters in the play: Mrs. Linde, who sacrifices her own life to save the family, and Doctor Rank, a good and loyal friend of Noras who truly loves the woman.

Characters of The Necklace are not so vividly described, but they are also many-dimensional. In the beginning, Mathilde is a jealous and cunning person thirsty for money. However, her desires ruin her life, and she has no choice but to refuse her dreams and to do the most dirty work. Labor changes the woman and she begins to respect her husband and her life. Her husband appears to be a loving, sensible man, her pillar of strength. Helmer and Loisel are completely opposite characters, since Torvald leaves his wife in the difficult situation and rejects her, while Loisel protects Mathilde.

To make their texts more emotional and picturesque, both authors use a wide palette of images, symbols, metaphors, and other stylistic devices. The imagery in the literary text helps to create and experience a certain impression. The arrangement of images is an important clue to the overall meaning of the work (Delaney, Ward, and Fiorina 8). Henrik Ibsen offers plenty of visual images in the play, mostly by describing the rooms, and decoration of the Christmas tree. A Dolls House is rich in symbolic language too. They are the house of Helmers family, and Noras dresses that are the mask that hide the inner world of the woman. Ibsen uses a metaphoric language to describe Noras feelings and worries. The title of the play is a metaphor itself, but the reader can interpret this metaphor only after reading the whole text. What is more, to depict the dire situation of Mrs. Linde and Krogstad, the author employs a metaphor and refers to them as to shipwrecked people clinging wreckage (Ibsen). In addition, Helmer uses a number of metaphors to name his wife, but all these words show his frivolous and unreal attitude towards Nora – little lark, skylark, squirrel, spendthrift, songbird (Ibsen). Ibsen creates a presentiment of the future tragic and, to some degree, happy ending by inserting the phrase wonderful will happen many times, which is a hint for the reader to predict the development of the plot.

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In his The Necklace, Guy de Maupassant uses predominantly visual images too. They are dresses, jewels, and descriptions of luxurious balls. The principle symbol of the text is the diamond necklace that appears to be a simple imitation. The necklace stands for the aristocratic life that is pretty and interesting from outside but empty inside. In addition, an old nightprowling carriage that takes them from the ball is one of the symbols. The carriage symbolizes the real world, in which Mathilde lives, her social status, and it is a striking opposition to her dreams about wealth, balls, and aristocratic routine. The author uses a number of metaphors throughout a text to make it more emotional and explicit. The central metaphor is necklace that appears in the title of the play and refers to unreachable and deceitful rich elite and their lives. To present the main idea of the story more clearly, Guy de Maupassant makes the sentences long and complex. The author deliberately does not name the main heroine in the beginning of the text to generalize the character, make it universal, and familiar to every female reader.

In conclusion, A Dolls House and The Necklace are examples of completely different genres of literature that carry two individual topics. Nevertheless, they have some features in common. Both these literary works are unique masterpieces that bring some certain message to the reader. The authors manage to combine all components of the texts skillfully to add emotionality and sincerity to them. Henrik Ibsen and his play The Dolls House underline the issue of gender inequality in society, while Guy de Maupassant concentrates on the social class differentiation. Both authors underpin their ideas with a number of stylistic devices and figures and imbue every single detail of the text with certain meaning. The analysis of these two texts proves that every genre has its own characteristic features that help to describe a problem from a certain angle. Henrik Ibsen and Guy de Maupassant illustrate the reader that the mastership does not depend on the genre but on the author himself.

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