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Nora vs. Kate: Compare and Contrast Essay

Upon thorough examination of the play “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen and the novel My Sister’s Keeper written by Jodi Picoult, it is evident that there are certain characters within both pieces of literature that have the same perception of love and loyalty but at the conclusion of what the reader would believe to occur, a twist takes place, one ending in disappointment and the other ending in tragedy . I found that characters Nora from “A Doll’s House” and Anna from “My Sister’s Keeper” show true signs of being loyal to the ones they love by going out of their way to please their family members in ways that comprise their existence.

Although one may seem to view the ending of both literatures as tragic or filled with sadness, both Nora and Anna are emancipated from their situations. (Ibsen, 1965) Nora is seen as naive at the beginning of the play where she demonstrates childish qualities causing her husband, Torvald to give her the nickname Doll. The term doll reveals the manner in which her own husband views her. The symbolism of that term is belittlement and allows her husband to deny her of her own self or identity. For example, Torvald states, “that is like a woman! …you know what I think about that.

No debt, no borrowing. ” (Ibsen, 21) The play reveals that Nora and Torvald’s conduct creates a sense of inferiority between the two by her permitting him to talk as though they are unequally yoked. It is also revealed within the play that she is capable of fabrication, which becomes a major issue throughout the play. It is for that particular reason why her marriage concludes. Apparently, Nora had been living a “double life” where their money was not being spent, although for a good reason, that is, to obtain a loan for which would save her husband’s life, legitimately.

Her husband comes to find out that Nora had been secretly paying off a debt for the loan where she forged her father’s signature to obtain it. Before Torvald is promoted at the same financial institution where Krogstad, the man who gave the loan to Nora worked, he threatens to expose Nora’s illegimate behaviour, thereby attempting to ruin Torvald’s reputation and ensuring that he holds his position at the bank. Nora even tells a friend that she is proud of the decision because it was done for the love of her husband.

Torvald comes to realize that Nora does not exemplify the wifely qualities he thought a wife should possess. Torvald questions their marriage when he inquires, “Nora—can I ever be anything more than a stranger to you? ” and she responds by saying, “both you and I would have to be so changed that…. our life together would be a real wedlock. ” (Ibsen, 375-280) Her actions reveal self-independence as well. Upon conclusion of the play, Nora finds her own identity and leaves her husband.

Ibsen clearly suggests a notion of self when Nora is able to emancipate herself from her husband. This creates a theme of self-confidence and self-motivation. Nora’s conception to understand that she is not inferior to Torvald creates psychological strength in knowing that she does not have to be dependent on him to make her feel loved as a human being. Self-identity is also important in a good marriage because although when husband and wife marry and they become one, they can make choices to benefit each.

I do not believe that Nora made the right decision by forging her father’s signature but I do believe that Torvald should have stood by her because it was her way of showing how much she loved him. (Ibsen, 1965) The character Anna from My Sister’s Keeper is very similar in the fact that throughout the novel and from the time she was born, Anna was a creation based on the fact that her older sister Kate overwhelmed by sickness. Anna does not have her own identity because from the time she was a child, parents Sarah and Brian Fitzgerald expected her to be an organ donor for Kate at all costs.

According to Brian who is a firefighter, “the safety of the rescuer is of a higher priority than the safety of the victim. Always. ” (Picoult, 142) Anna realizes that in order to make her own decision it is necessary to emancipate or free herself via lawsuit through which her lawyer Campbell Alexander works for her until the case is resolved. It is later revealed within the novel that the lawsuit is a result of Kate encouraging Anna not to donate her kidney to her. Kate also wanted to emancipate herself from going through all the medical issues that has plagued life from a young age.

The relationship between the two sisters is what seemed to be an unbreakable bond until Anna is killed in a severe car accident when both Campbell and herself are driving to the hospital. Campbell lives. With this ironic twist, as power of attorney is Campbell’s, he decides to give Anna’s kidney to Kate who lives healthy throughout life. Anna, although she loses her identity when she is killed, emancipation arrives. She is liberated from having to worry about her sister’s health and the pressure of the parents in making her feel obliged to Kate.

Like Nora’s situation, Anna’s family structure is compromised because of certain decisions made. They are also both freed from situations where they thought to be binding and felt as if they were being forced be a part of circumstances of compulsion and responsibility. If Nora or Anna were to initially deny their family members of what they needed to survive, they would be thought to be disloyal and selfish but in fact, they were both selfless individuals. The love they had for family for so great that they looked beyond their own selves to do what was logically and morally right in their eyes.

(Picoult, 2005) Due to the fact that “A Doll’s House” was written during the 1800’s which was a time period in history when husband viewed their wives as the typical housewife which meant they did not work outside of the house. Their main duties were to stay at home, take care of the children, clean the house, and cook meals while the husband was expected to be the breadwinner of the family. It was unusual for many wives to leave their husbands even when spoken to in a condescending manner.

They often were willing to endure that kind of language and remained with their husbands at all costs because it was what was expected of them at that time in society. Society in the 1800 often was a determinant for the way in which man and wife would live and anyone who diverted from the norm was viewed as insubordinate. My Sister’s Keeper, written in this 21st century is different because it speaks of unethical means of providing live for one human being by essentially taking the life of another.

What I mean by this is that Anna’s parents were so caught up in trying to save Kate’s life that they were willing to design a baby for this reason. It is clearly unethical and immoral because it is an infringement upon the rights of Anna as a human being. It is very apparent that Anna could no longer live up to her parents’ and everyone else’s expectations of being the organ provider for Kate whom they adorned so much to the point that everyone else became insignificant in their lives.

Even Campbell’s girlfriend gives her own opinion through this statement, “even if the law says that no one is responsible for anyone else, helping someone who needs it is the right thing to do. ” (Picoult, 122) At the conclusion, the guilt consumed the parents whereas the brother Jesse, Kate, Campbell and his girlfriend later on, his wife, begin to lead normal lives. Modern day society would say that the parents are deserving of the overwhelming feeling of guilt because of what they made Anna endure as their own child. Another issue that Picoult covers is the legal aspect where Anna medically emancipates herself.

In the 1800s this was not a choice that could be made because it didn’t exist during those times. This shows that people are able to make many more choices today than they could during the 1800s, many without being looked at as immoral unless it has been publicly exposed. Contributing factors of the resulting drama of both pieces of literature is the attempt to create unusual occurrences and climax. The writers want to give the readers an emotional and controversial feeling so that the themes may grab their attention allowing them to be captivated while reading.

By doing this, it evokes a thought to keep reading and by finding the author’s work captivating, they will want to read other literature written by the authors. I believe that both Ibsen and Picoult definitely reach their readers by their stylistic methods in which they use controversy to make their readers more interested. Bibliography Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House. ” London: Penguin Books, 1965. Picoult, Jodi. My Sister’s Keeper A Novel. New York: Washington Square P, 2005.


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