Eva Luna And A Doll?s House: The Nature Of Power Essay, Research Paper
Discuss the nature of power explored in the texts, Eva Luna, and A Doll?s House.In the two texts Eva Luna, and A Doll?s House, by Isabel Allende and Henrik Ibsen respectively, there are various people who have power over others. However this power comes in a number of forms, different characters use it for different purposes, and the ways the characters achieve it also differs. These different natures of power allow some people to succeed where others fail, and it is those who succeed that, in the end, have the true power.
In the novel Eva Luna, there are various people who are in positions of power. The one who is the most obvious to the reader is the General; a dictator. He has the power to control and manipulate others to do as he wants, in order to benefit himself. His power comes about through the use of force, violence, propaganda, and persuasive tactics. He can control people, but it is only because they fear him. There is no feeling by the people he has power over, that he deserves it, they have no respect for him, and so without his armies, his power is meaningless.
Rolf Carle?s father in Eva Luna parallels this nature of power. Lucas Carle has total control over his wife and children, to the point where he treats his wife more like a prostitute, and his children hide from him when he comes home because they fear a beating from him. It is this fear of being punished if one does not obey that gives Lucas Carle his power, and as in the case of the General, if the only reason to give in to someone?s power is fear of the consequences if one doesn?t, then this power gains no respect from those it affects.
The kind of power that the General possesses is totally different to that of Eva herself. Both of them are able to change people, however, where the General changes people through the force he puts onto them, Eva changes people from the inside. She is able to change people by bringing out what is already inside of them, and of herself. She does this by focusing on the positive parts of any situation, and in this way inspiring hope. Her power is based on having the courage to rise up against her oppressors, and the ability to lead others by evoking feeling and passion within them, instead of a power based on the fear of the consequences of not conforming. She doesn?t need an army behind her to enforce her ideas; people are drawn to her. One reason for this is because of her stories. Her stories allow her listeners to escape from their real worlds and for them it is a way that they can get happiness out of a life that isn?t treating them well. For Elvira, it is almost that she can?t cope without one of Eva?s stories to get her through the day. And when they were separated, and she would visit Eva, she would ask Eva for ?a long story to last till the next visit.? (Allende, 96) The imagination is a powerful thing, and Eva is able to communicate directly with people?s imaginations.
It is this ability to cope in, and move beyond oppressive situations that made her life such a success, and her ambitions more achievable. Eva was able to put up with a lot in her time as a servant. She had the self-power to tolerate much harshness from her employers, but when she was unhappy, she did not contain this unhappiness inside her, and let it destroy her emotionally, as perhaps weaker characters might, she let her mind be known, and this is nowhere more obvious, then when she left her job working for the minister:
?With absolute aplomb, as if it were something I did every day, I lifted the receptacle high and emptied it over the head of the Minister of State ? with a single motion of the wrist liberating myself from humiliation. For an eternal second the Minister sat motionless, eyes bulging.? (Allende, 101)
In the play A Doll?s House, both Nora and Torvald have power over each other. However, they are very different types of power. The power of Torvald over Nora is more obvious because it is economic, physical, social status, and sexual power, however Nora?s power over Torvald is less obvious. In the beginning of the play Nora is basically living her life to please Torvald, which for the time pleases herself as well, and she is contented with a life where she is totally provided for by her husband, and this gives her fairly materialistic view on life:
?Well, I mean, it?s lovely to have heaps of money and not to have to worry about anything. Don?t you think?? (Ibsen, 30)
We get the impression that Nora belongs in this kind of society where women are totally dependent on their husbands, however through the play, that impression gradually deteriorates until the climactic ending when Nora totally frees herself of Torvald, and it is at this point that we see who really has the power in their relationship.
Nora shows that she has the power to overcome the impositions of the society she lives in, in which it is not acceptable for women to be independent people, and reaches the self-realisation that she has to go out into the world, in order to educate herself, she realises that she can not just accept everything that Torvald tells her as truth. She goes on a journey from living her false life with Torvald, to coming to the realization that her marriage and supposed happiness, are all artificial. She has the power within herself, and the courage, to make that journey:
?I know most people think as you, Torvald, and I know there?s something of the sort to be found in books. But I?m no longer prepared to accept what people say and what?s written in books. I must think things out for myself, and try to find my own answer.? (Ibsen, 100)
Nora realises that self-fulfillment is not about finding truth in books, and from other people, it is about finding what is true for oneself.
There are some links which can be drawn between the characters in these two books. One can compare the General in Eva Luna, to Torvald in A Doll?s House. It seems that both these characters have power over someone, or some people, however it is a power which is forced onto its recipients. If the circumstances were different, then these two characters would not posses such power. In Eva Luna, if there were no armies, no propaganda, no forceful tactics that the General could use, then he would have no power, because he could no longer control people. But, Eva?s power is what she stirs inside people, not what she forces upon them. This is paralleled in A Doll?s House with Torvald. If society had different values, and women were the dominant sex, then Torvald, and many other men that he represents, would have no power, and we see this occurring when Nora defies society and decides to be independent, and leaves Torvald ? and there is no question that this was an absolutely unheard of thing to do at the time, when the play toured to Germany it was such an outrageous notion, that German authorities forced Ibsen to change the ending – it is then that we see that it is Torvald who is totally dependent on Nora, not the other way round, and by leaving, Nora has shown that she always had the power in the relationship.
Both of these women, Nora and Eva, had very little or no power at the start of the texts, but by the end they have gained economic, emotional, and physical power. Both women are faced with adverse circumstances, but through their self-determination, they are able to triumph over these circumstances, and gain the power they lacked at the beginning of their journeys.
I believe that the authors of these texts are putting forward the message that true power is something that is innate in people, not something that can be achieved in the ways that the General, and Lucas Carle did. Where the power lies in a certain situation is not always where it first seems most obvious.
In these two texts there are different people who posses different forms of power in society. There are those who force ideas upon others, and who only wish to benefit themselves, and seek absolute power, but there are also those who have power because they are able to communicate to the core of other people, and they are able to give people the courage to stand up for what they believe. These are the people who have the true power, and who, in these two texts, eventually, in one way or another succeed.
Bibliography:1) Isabel Allende, Eva Luna, Alfred A. Knopf (trans), (New York; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1988)
2) Henrik Ibsen, A Doll?s House, Michael Meyer (trans), (London; Methuen Drama, 1985)