Nature of Study: In the Beginning of Both A Doll House by Ibsen and The Metamorphosis by Kakfa, Nora and the Samsa family seem to be overwhelmingly dependent of Torvald and Gregor. However, they both continuously change throughout the play and the novel. And my intent is to examine this change and come to the conclusion that both are better off without the support and guidance they’ve been given. Strategy Employed: Formal Essay
Although Kafka portrays the Samsa family as dependents of Gregor in the beginning of Metamorphosis, and Ibsen also portrays Nora as a wife who depends on the support and guidance of her husband in A Doll House, both the Samsa family and Nora prove they can be independent and happy without him and her husband. In Act One of A Doll House a conversation between Mrs. Linde and Nora reveals that Nora has secretly borrowed money to finance a trip to Italy to save the life of her husband, Torvald Helmer, which she hopes to repay without consequence.
In comparison, Kafka begins Metamorphosis presenting Gregor as a giant bug whose family accepts this as a treatable illness anticipating a recovery. A Doll House begins with a conversation between Nora and Torvald. Torvald frequently refers to her by play names, as if she were a child. Nora is his “little lark twittering” (43), his “squirrel” (43), his little “spendthrift” (44), his “little scatterbrains” (44), and his “little prodigal” (45). The lark and the squirrel are animals that are very vulnerable to death and injury, just as Nora is.
By calling her a spendthrift, scatterbrains, and a prodigal, Torvald introduces her as an unintelligent, weak, dependent wife. Her true strengths are revealed in the conversation between Mrs. Linde and herself. When Mrs. Linde inquires how Nora got money to finance the trip to Italy since a woman cannot borrow money without her husband’s consent, Nora replies, “Oh, but a wife with a little business sense, a wife who knows how to manage – ” (53). Her understanding of business shows that she is intelligent and has other potential outside of the home.
She also says, “It really hasn’t been easy meeting the payments on time. Listen, in the business world there’s what they call quarterly interest and what they call amortization… ” (55). Working so long and hard, she is definitely determined and ambitious. And from her willingness to break the law to guarantee Torvald’s health definitely shows her courage. She took a big risk taking out that loan. Therefore, she proves to herself that she is capable of being much more than a housewife. Unfortunately, it takes more than that for her to realize this.
When Krogstad becomes aware that Nora forged her father’s signature, he continuously blackmails her and causes her to realize her unfulfilled potential. In response, she demands, “Hasn’t a daughter the right to protect her dying father from worry and anxiety? Hasn’t a wife the right to save her husband’s life? I don’t know much about he law, but I’m quite certain that it must say somewhere that things like that are allowed. Don’t you, a lawyer, know that? You must be a very stupid lawyer, Mr. Krogstad” (67). Her strong words show her potential to be a strong woman.
And throughout the story she’s becomes stronger and stronger. Moreover, Nora breaking free from her marriage with Torvald is a result of the two letters Krogstad sends. In the first letter, Krogstad reveals to Torvald that Nora forged a signature to get the loan that saved his life. This triggers Nora’s inevitable fate. When Torvald reads the letter, he’s furious. Complaining that she has ruined his happiness and calling her a hypocrite and a liar, Torvald single-handedly proves to Nora that her As you can see, Nora wants nothing to do with Torvald. She’s lived in a manner suitable only for Torvald.
She worked hard for him around the house and to pay off the debt that saved his life. Everything she did revolved around Torvald. However, she found the courage within her to break free from this emotional imprisonment that Torvald provided for her. She was unappreciated and her potential was unfulfilled. She is better off without him. In comparison, Kafka introduces Gregor in Metamorphosis as the breadwinner of the Samsa family, just as Torvald was. Much like Nora, his family contributes to the household responsibilities, but counts on Gregor for his support and guidance.
However, once Gregor awakes as a giant bug and is incapable of guiding and supporting them, the family is forced to take responsibility for themselves and Gregor. As the story unfolds, their attitude towards Gregor begins to change and they become less dependent of him. At first, it’s clear the family is under the impression that his illness is not hopeless and will pass in time. The milk they put in his room while he is asleep would be a suitable diet for a sick human. And as much as his human sense of hunger makes him want to drink the milk, his body refuses it.
Therefore, when his sister Grete realizes he didn’t drink any, she brings him a wide variety of fresh and rotten foods that he eats quickly. At this point, Grete’s perception of him changes. The idea of eating rotten food doesn’t seem very humanlike, and more like that of a bug. In a way, this is comparable to the conversation between Mrs. Linde and Nora where her secret is revealed. Her strengths are apparent here, but she doesn’t seem to utilize them yet. In the same sense, the bug isn’t very humanlike, but the family still wants to think that he is.
The family is a little better off financially than originally anticipated, but the family is aware the money won’t last forever. Unfortunately, his mother is asthmatic and his father hasn’t worked since his business went under about five years ago. And his sister will have to give up her dream of studying violin, if she plans to make money for the family. This is a major turning point for the family. As difficult as this is for them, they are all forced to take responsibility for their own needs and make Gregor less of a priority.