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|← “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair||A Family Tragicomic →|
The use of language towards women in the 1870s in this novel is metaphorical since it emphasizes particular aspects about women. Role playing and masking have been used to represent the repressed identity of women in the novel. Metaphorical language also serves as a means of making comparisons. The author has compared the roles of women and men in the novel. Women have been portrayed as being more sacrificial than men are. Linde gets married to a rich man, even though he does not love him and abandons Krogstad her true love in order to provide for his two young brothers because her mother was bedridden and helpless. She thought she was well off but after the death of her husband, the husband’s precarious business went to pieces and she was left with nothing (Ibsen 23).
Nora had to save from the little housekeeping money offered to her by the husband in order to ensure that her children were well dressed. Whenever she was given money for things like new dresses, she only used some of it in buying the simplest and cheapest things. In order to save her husband, she took an equivalent of two hundred and fifty pounds from Mr. Krogstad and paid it in installments. These installments were paid through the copying work, which she did secretly until late at night without involving her husband (Ibsen 32).
Anna-Marie, a nurse at Nora’s house, abandoned her daughter in order to support herself by working as a caretaker of Nora’s children (Ibsen 68). Women have also been described as having the ability to bid men to change their minds about an issue. Nora was successful in convincing her husband to employ Linde in the bank as he agreed to find something for her (Ibsen 42). Krogstad approaches Nora to use her influence to convince her husband not to dismiss him from his subordinate position at the bank (Ibsen 48). Linde bids Krogstad on Nora’s behalf and he returns the bond to Nora and this frees her from the suffering agonies (Ibsen 141).
Women are expected to have the same opinions as men and not to differ with them. They are expected to give into anything their husbands say and take on all orders issued to them. Nora’s existence was to merely perform tricks for her husband who arranged everything according to his own taste (Ibsen 148). Even as he tries to convince her husband not to dismiss Krogstad from his subordinate position in the bank in order to save her reputation, her husband still goes ahead to write the dismissal letter (Ibsen 84). When she lived with her father, Nora had to accept his father’s opinion about everything and when she differed with him, she concealed the fact since her father would not be pleased (Ibsen 147). Nora likes sweets and macaroons but since her husband forbids her from taking them, she does it in secret in order to please her husband (Ibsen 13).
They have been depicted as dolls that men find as great fun when playing with them. Nora is treated as a child by her husband who uses pet names such as the little skylark and the feather brain on her. Even her father called her his doll child and played with her in the same manner that she used to play with her doll (Ibsen 147). The most sacred duties of women relate to their husbands, children, as well as the home and not to themselves. When Nora is leaving, her husband tells her that she wants to neglect her most sacred duties to her husband and children (Bell and Offen, 21). He thinks that she is out of her mind and labels her as a blind foolish woman for trying to desert her home, husband and children without any due regard to what people may say (Ibsen 144).
Helmer also believes that Nora’s role is to beautify the home and maintain her personal duty during all the occasions. Nora is nervously active around the Christmas tree and its decorations and what she might wear for the fancy dress party (Sidall 21). Women have also been revealed as insubordinate to men who are expected to be the governing partner’s in a marriage. Nora takes a loan from Krogstad in order to save the life of her husband but does not disclose this to her husband for fear that he will not accept the idea that his wife or any other woman helped to save his life. Therefore, she is forced to work in secret in order to pay off the debt since it is regarded illegal for a woman to obtain a loan without the consent of her husband (Sidall 15).
Single women are freer than those who are married such that when they earn their money, they can do what they wish to do with it without any influence or control from their husbands. Husbands have to be breadwinners who are depended upon by their wives. Linde is forced to marry a rich man in order to obtain the money she needs to support her ailing mother and brothers (Fisher and Silber, 100). On the other hand, Nora depends on her husband to provide money for housekeeping (Ibsen 8).