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					Senior A 48812039 賴莉伶

The dimensions of the Women in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, A Doll’s House, and Lu-Xun’s Shang-Shi

In these three works, each woman represents very divergent dimensions of women in their times. Hedda Gabler, an aristocratic, marries a bourgeoisie after her father’s death and still maintains her pride and the idea of hierarchism. She though does not have the privileges and money she used to have but in terms of marriage she shows her dominance over her husband, Tesman. On the other hand, Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, represents the image of the Angel of the House and the belittled woman in terms of marriage and motherhood. She is the doll herself in her household while the Zi-chun in Lu-Zun’s Shang-Shi is the Chinese replica of Nora. The title, “Hedda Gabler” indicates the female protagonist Hedda Gabler’s inability to adjust to the bourgeois life which she marries into and her pride as well because instead of using the family name of her husband, the title still uses Hedda’s maiden name. Her tragedy is not her dramatic suicide at the end but her desire to come up to a certain standard of perfection. She thinks life should be beautiful including death itself. However, her marriage into the bourgeois family is imperfect though Hedda may not be aware of that. Also Hedda’s tragedy is the result of her idea
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of hierarchism. Though she is unable to lead the luxurious life she used to have when her father was alive, she cannot appreciate Tesman and his aunt’s efforts. She humiliates Aunt Julle on purpose who tries very hard not to degrade her. Also Tesman is not allowed to use the word “we” when talking about Hedda and himself. This is the ready evidence of her hierarchism. Hedda’s suicide at the end of the play is the result of these two factors. Nora Helmer in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House represents the awakening of the belittled and doll-like women in terms of marriage and the image of the Angel of the house also in marriage and motherhood. In the beginning of A Doll’s House, it is not difficult for readers to find out that Nora herself is the “doll” of her husband. Torvald uses various pet-like names to address Nora, his wife, who should have been an equal to him. These belittled names include “little spendthrift,” “little songbird,” “squirrel,” “little featherhead,” little skylark,” “little person,” and “little woman.” In Act One, these terms appear again and again. These names are the evidences of Torvald’s obvious degrading of Nora. Besides, Torvald also adds the possessive “my” before all these belittled names, which indicated that Nora belongs only to him, and that he has the total power over Nora to manipulate Nora, his own “doll.” This obedient little woman would do anything to please her husband including to dress the way he likes, sings and dances the way he would like her to. However, she at the end only finds that the one who should protect her from harm is the one who abandons her when dangers come in sight. Torvald’s responsibilities force her to face the reality and make her strengthen her decision to walkout from her family. The slam of door surely is the
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symbol of Nora’s awakening. Nora though a doll of her husband represents the image of the Angel of the House through the sacrifices she makes for her husband and children. Though happy is she seen from her appearance, she manages to pay back the loan on her own and doesn’t reveal the truth to anyone until she meets Mrs. Linde. And when she decides to leave her children behind, she means well for her children’s sake. For she believes the nanny would provide better care for her children and that she does not want to ruin her children’s mortality because of her own misdemeanors. Zi-chun(子君) in Lu-Xun’s Shang-Shi (魯迅《傷逝》), on the other hand, the Chinese duplicate of Nora, represents the fortune that may happen to women after walking out of their families like Nora in Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.” The female protagonist says, ”I belong to myself,and they are not to interfere my rights! ”(我是 我自己的,他們誰也沒有干涉我的權利!) Indeed, the life of the female protagonist belongs only to herself and thus she is the only one to decide what to do with her own life. She decides to cohabit with her boyfriend without the permission from her father who in her time has the power to dominate her marriage and even her life. Her walkout from her family is like Nora’s. Very different from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, this short story indicates clearly the plights the female protagonist faces including the shortage of money and food. Here readers can easily see the differences between the Chinese culture and the western culture. Lu-Xun seems to intend to inform readers the results of the walkout. Actually, in this short story, the female protagonist does not voice for herself because this is written after her death. The story is told through the repentance and confession of the male protagonist, Juan-sheng(涓生). Readers can

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only know Zi-chun from the view of Juan-sheng, who may not be able to express Zi-chun’s view of her walkout from her family. Does Zi-chun regret? Readers cannot know from Juan-sheng’s writing. The ending of the short story is that Juan-sheng was informed the death of Zi-chun, which is a tragedy. Like what Lu-Xun said in his well-known speech, “Women who walk out of their families either become prostitutes or they go back to their family.” Why? Money talks. It’s not easy for women at that time to earn a living by themselves. And Zi-chun’s death accounts for what Lu-Xun said. She goes back to her father and ends up dying. These three women represent the different dimensions of women in the 19th and early 20th century. All of them are not the typical women we used to read from books. They may be not aware of their own values but what they try to seek proves that their own values.

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