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Forms of Abuses in the House of Bernarda Alba and a Doll's House

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Forms of Abuses in The House of Bernarda Alba and A Doll's House

Bernarda Alba's accusation, "Painted hussy!" (Garcia Lorca 175), may seem crueler and harsher than Torvald's calling Nora "little squirrel" (Ibsen 2), but each is degrading and insulting. Name calling is but one form of abuse that is exhibited by the main characters holding the power. The House of Bernarda Alba, written by Federico Garcia Lorca, is set in rural southern Spain in the 1930s and shows an abusive mother who alienates all the people around her in her attempt to live in "decency." Bernarda will not allow her daughters to be married because she thinks the men in her town are not good enough. Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House also has its abuser in the form of Torvald Helmer, a middle class, successful banker in 1800's Norway who mistreats his wife and other acquaintances. Nora pretends to be helpless, but actually she has illegally borrowed money to save her husband's life. To the modern playgoer, both characters seem equally abusive and dominating, but Torvald's behavior is actually acceptable in his society, whereas, Bernarda's is not.

The characters Torvald and Bernarda both mistreat the people they love. Torvald treats Nora like a child. He calls her names of birds and other animals and not by her given name. He accuses Nora of being a spendthrift like her father. The fact that Nora does not appreciate this is presented when she tells Torvald that she wishes she had inherited more of her father's traits, showing her pride. Also, he monitors her intake of sweets. On Christmas Eve, the first day of the play, Nora buys some macaroons while Christmas shopping, Torvald makes a comment immediately, "Hasn't Miss Sweet Tooth been breaking rules in town today?" (Ibsen 4). This shows how controlling Torvald is over Nora and her decisions and his lack of trust in her. He keeps a close eye on Nora at all times and keeps up with her every move, making sure she is not up to something he does not approve of. Meanwhile, in The House Bernarda Alba Bernarda mistreats Martirio; she beats her for taking Angustias's picture of Pepe el Romano and hiding it in her bed. She does not hate her daughter but she does not love her either, she punishes Martirio for what she did to Angustias and for lying to her about the entire situation. Torvald and Bernarda both take immediate control over the incidents in their households and settle the complications. As a husband, Torvald's behavior is acceptable in society because he is merely watching over his wife; whereas, Bernarda's behavior is unacceptable because it is not correct to beat one's children at any circumstance.

Also, Torvald and Bernarda abuse their servants and the people they employ. Torvald is apprehensive when he learns that Krogstad forges someone's name, even though it is done under pressure. He says, "Just think how a guilty man like that has to lie and play the hypocrite with everyone, how he has to wear a mask in the presence of those near and dear to him, even before his wife and children" (27). Torvald speaks of Krogstad behind his back and doesn't mention anything positive about him. On the other hand, Bernarda, who has many servants and employees, treats them rather poorly also. She lacks of any appreciation for all



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