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Have you ever wondered about the obsession to have a perfectly clean house? Some women are immaculate housekeepers, and they have to work continually because no matter how hard they work, the house is made dirty again. Three meals a day keeps the dishes dirty, people coming from outside keeps the carpet dirty, and sleeping every night assures a messy bed come morning. It seems these women’s work is never rewarded by being done. Like these tireless housekeepers, the four characters I am about to discuss found their labors gave them little reward.
Othello was a man whose noble character and hard work had overcome any prejudice. He was a black Moor, a usually ill treated minority, but his work in the army had earned him a position of importance. His actions had won him enough regard to be allowed to do the unthinkable, to marry an upper class white woman. However, it would be this act that would lead to his undoing. Loving Desdemona opened up his heart to jealously and it was through this Iago lead Othello to his downfall.
When Othello forgot to act with his own good sense and fair judgment, he began to undo all he had acquired. He agreed to the death of Cassio, an innocent man and he murdered a faithful wife. Finally, he had lost all the high honor he earned and chose dishonorable suicide. “A Doll’s House,” gives us a perfect example of how acts of sacrifice and love are not always appreciated by the object of the person’s affection. Nora was a young wife with a dying father and a mortally ill husband. She had to find money to care for her husband, Torvald, while not disturbing her dying father.
The only course she thinks she can take is to forge her father’s name to the bond which will give her the money to save Torvald’s life. She is delighted by her cleverness, not realizing she has committed a crime which will come back to haunt her. When her lender blackmails her, holding her crime of forgery over her head, she is confused. How could it be a crime to help the two people she loved? She is only further disillusioned by Torvald’s reaction to her folly, to condemn her to a life without his love and her children.
The man she worked so hard to save cast her aside as if he hated her; all her efforts were nothing to him. When the blackmail is removed and Torvald ‘forgives’ her, Nora has wised up and leaves him. Perhaps her acts of love in the past weren’t for nothing; they woke her up to the reality of her life. Willy Loman from “A Death of a Salesman,” is a character who can not fail to evoke pity. He worked a thankless job all his life, only to find himself not truly wanted or needed in the company he had spend so many years with as an loyal employee.
He had worked to raise two sons, but the sons he raised were both struggling. Neither had a great job nor had accomplished anything, Biff had even been in jail. Worse, they had no love for the father who was succumbing to dementia but continue to work for his family. They even deny he is their father and leave him confused and alone in a restaurant; his years of work for them worth nothing. In the end, Willy kills himself, his last thoughts of his family. Amanda in “A Glass Menagerie” is a woman who dedicated her whole life to her two children, Tom and Laura, after her husband leaves her.
All she wants is the best for them, but Tom is resentful he has to work at a menial job to help financially and Laura is unable to function in society, even to the point of finishing a typing class so she can work as well. Amanda, desperate, makes one final stand. She has Tom bring home a young man for Laura to meet and maybe marry, but it ends badly. Angry at his mother for her interference in his life, Tom abandons the family and Amanda is left with a recluse daughter and little means to tend to her. All her effort to raise her children and secure them happiness are a failure.