Willy And Nora Essay, Research Paper
Henrik Ibsens, A Doll House, is about how a family, particularly Nora Helmer, deals with an old secret that is about to become known to her husband Torvald Helmer. At the start of the play Nora is talking with Torvald. Nora begins to acting like Torvald’s “little squirrel” in attempt to get money from him. At that time it is not known what she wants the money for, but Nora says it was for Christmas presents. The actual reason for the money is so she can pay on her little secret. Nora’s little secret is monetary loan from Nils Krogstad, a clerk at Torvald’s bank. What makes the loan so terrible is the fact that she forged her father’s signature on the promissory note. In that time period, that was a horrible crime. Many people had their lives ruined because of a forgery accusation and Krogstad was one of those people. Nora deals with the situation by constantly deceiving Torvald into giving her more money. This works great for a while, but one day Torvald decides to fire Krogstad from his job. Krogstad decided to use his knowledge of the secret forgery to have Nora persuade Torvald to let him stay with the bank. After a futile attempt from Nora to convince Torvald to not fire Krogstad the situation begins to heat up. Krogstad threatens to expose Nora’s secret and ruin her and Torvald. Nora begins to panic. She tries everything she can to stop Krogstad. She even tries unsuccessfully to get Krogstad’s letter out of the mailbox so that Torvald does not get it. It is at that time Nora contemplates suicide. She figures that by committing suicide she can keep from disgracing Torvald. Later that evening as she is preparing to leave the house, Torvald gets the letter from Krogstad and becomes infuriated. Torvald begins yelling at Nora like a mad man and even strikes her. After a few minutes a letter is brought to Torvald from Krogstad. In the letter Krogstad apologizes for his action and returns the promissory note absolving Nora of her debt and giving back evidence of Nora’s forgery. Upon receipt of the letter Torvald retracted all of the harsh things he had said to Nora. It was then that Nora had her epiphany. Nora realized that to Torvald she was nothing more than a keepsake or a trophy and not a wife. She decided that she would no longer live that way, and that from now on she would live for herself, and then she left.
In Arthur Miller’s, Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman was an older man who had spent his whole life as a traveling salesman. Willy was a man who believed that in order for a person to be successful, the person only has to be well liked. If a person is well liked, then nothing else really matters. Willy had recently received a cancellation of his salary, and was working on commission alone, which was not making ends meet. Every where Willy turned there were financial issues that could not be solved. Willy also began to have problems with his sanity. After several years of poor sales, and after requesting a local job, Willy was fired. At that point, Willy was devastated. Suddenly Willy realized what he needed to do to make thing right in his eyes. Willy said, ”You work all your life and you end up worth more dead than alive”, so he decided to commit suicide. By dying, the insurance would pay twenty thousand dollars to his family and every thing would be all right with them.
Nora Helmer and Willy Loman were similar in the way that they handled secrecy and the loss of their families’ respect. Nora and Willy both were using money in a way unknown to their family. Nora was using the money to pay a secret debt, and Willy was borrowing money from Charley on a weekly basis, so it looked like he was making more money than he actually was from his job. Nora knew how much honor and respect from the community meant to Torvald so she dared not tell her secret for fear that destroy both of them. Willy knew that he had lost Biff’s respect a long time ago, but he desperately wanted to keep the respect that Linda had for him. Willy was having a hard time because he was broke and was too proud to go to work for Charley. At one point, Nora and Willy see suicide as a means to deal with problems. The main difference is that Nora changes her mind and Willie continues with his decision. At the end of A Doll House, Nora decides to go off on her own to deal with her short comings and personal failures, where as Willy decides to end his personal failures by ending his life.
A Doll House and Death of a Salesman are both plays about families trying to deal with the failures or the perceived failures of family members. One is about giving up on life and the other is about starting life anew.