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A Doll House Vs. Kramer Vs. Kramer

Essay by   •  December 23, 2011  •  Case Study  •  2,312 Words (10 Pages)  •  5,123 Views

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How can two stories of two different couples written at two different times be so similar and unalike at the same time? That is the case with "A Doll's House" and "Kramer vs. Kramer." Both tell the story of a woman, Nora in "A Doll's House", and Joanna in "Kramer vs. Kramer, who becomes unhappy with her marriage and decides to leave her duties as a wife. Although they go about some things in different ways, they have the same reasons for leaving. However they go about their leave in two totally different ways. The husbands, Ted in "Kramer vs. Kramer", and Torvald in "A Doll's House", are also the same, but different. Maybe the different time when each story was written has something to do with the way the actors behave. Maybe the different time also affects the symbolism, as well.

Nora and Joanna both become very unhappy with their marriage and leave their marital roles as wife and their duties as a mother. When Nora leaves, she tells Torvald that she does not love him anymore and that she is not the man that she thought he was. When Joanna leaves Ted, she tells him the same thing, but says nothing about her husband being a different man. Nora does not say bye to her children, and neither does Joanna. However, Joanna says "goodnight" to her little boy before she takes off. They both felt it would be too hard to do. There is symbolism for Nora when she is about to leave, however there is none for when Joanna leaves. Right before she leaves she says to Torvald "Yes Torvald, I have changed my dress." But they do share one symbolic thing when they leave, in both plays a door shuts after each woman leaves. A door slams after Nora leaves and an elevator door closes as Joanna is leaving.

Both Ted and Torvald are concerned with appearances. We get this impression from Ted in the very beginning of "Kramer vs. Kramer" when he says "I wanted to look the part, so I went out and bought this nice burgundy coat." We get this impression from Torvald many times throughout "A Doll's House". At one point he tells Mrs. Linde, a friend of the couple, that she should take up embroidery in the place of knitting, simply because it looks better. Also he tries to make his life seem perfect, by having the perfect trophy wife and a big job at the bank. Another time it pops up is when he tells Nora that he cannot give Krogstad back his job at the bank. His reason for this was "how would that make me look?" That leads us to another similarity between the two men, in both stories each man gets promoted at his job. However they both hold two different job titles, Ted is an advertising executive and Torvald works at a bank, gets promoted to bank manager.

There is one major difference between these two men. The major difference is that Torvald has maids to look after his children, however Ted does not. From this we are able to infer that if Torvald was put in the same position Ted was, we never know because the end of "A Doll House" is when Nora slams the door, that Torvald would not play parenting roles, mother and father. Also words that were said by Torvald earlier in the play, "Come now Rank, this is a place only fit for mothers", after the children come running in the house. Both play no role in their child or children's lives, Ted only has one child and Torvald has a few. However after Joanna leaves, Ted realizes that he must take over the role as a mother, as well as perform his duties as a father. He must now "Bring home the bacon and cook it", as he stated when he was attempting to make French toast with his little boy. Ted becomes the one who has to take his kid to school, pick him u from school, make him breakfast and dinner, take him to the park, all while working to support the two of them.

Back to Nora and Joanna, both women toss around the idea of committing suicide. Nora said that she was tired of being somebody's wife, or mother, or daughter. Joanna does not mention anything about that. However, they both leave because they want to find themselves and become their own person, because they did not know who they were. They also say that they were unfit mothers. However Nora believes she is an unfit mother because she has done a terrible thing and thinks that she will poison her children's minds. But Joanna says that she was an unfit mother because she was not in the right state of mind, but she sees a therapist and is now ready for Billy. Nora would never have come back for the children. Before they leave their homes and duties, they were the primary caretaker of their house. They also both lived basically to please their husbands, up until the time they left them. Nora says that she will never write to Torvald or their children, but Joanna writes to her little boy, but Ted thinks it is to him and he becomes upset when he finds out it is not. Nora backs up this claim by saying that she will not write and she will not accept anything from Torvald. This also gives the impression that she will never return, unlike Joanna, who meets Ted and says she wants custody of their child. We can infer that Nora will never come home because for one she says it and at the time that "A Doll's House" was written women were already not seen as an equal partner so if she abandoned her children and husband and then tried to come back and attain custody of the kids, she would have gotten laughed at and she would probably be too embarrassed to try to get custody anyway. This leads us to another difference between Nora and Joanna, women back at the time of "A Doll's House" had no financial rights. They had to get permission from their husband if they wanted to take out a loan. But in "Kramer vs. Kramer", Joanna pays all of the bills. We see this when she about to walk out of the apartment that her and Ted live in. She has her suit case in her hand and says that the bills for the current month have been payed. When Nora leaves she does not break down and cry, instead she slams the door. But Joanna is in tears as she leaves her husband, this may also give Ted the impression that she is coming back.

Ted and Torvald are different in more ways than one. Ted becomes more

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