Chekhov And Ibsen
A play serves as the author's tool for critiquing society. One rarely encounters
the ability to transcend accepted social beliefs. These plays reflect
controversial issues that the audience can relate to because they interact in
the same situations every day. As late nineteenth century playwrights point out
the flaws of mankind they also provide an answer to the controversy. Unknowingly
the hero or heroine solves the problem at the end of the play and indirectly
sends a message to the audience on how to solve their own problem. Henrik Ibsen
and Anton Chekov both provide unique analysis on issues their culture never
thought as wrong. In the play A Doll's House Ibsen tackles women's rights as a
matter of importance being neglected. In his play he acknowledges the fact that
in nineteenth century European life the role of the women was to stay home,
raise the children, and attend to her husband. Chekov illustrates the role of a
dysfunctional family and how its members are effected. Both of the
aforementioned problems are solved through the playwrights' recommendations and
the actions of the characters. In the plays A Doll's House and Uncle Vanya the
authors use realism to present a problem and solution to controversial societal
issues. While both plays mainly concentrate on the negative aspects of culture,
there are positive facets explored by the playwrights. In A Doll's House Henrik

Ibsen focuses on the lack of power and authority given to women, but through

Nora we also see the strength and willpower masked by her husband Torvald. To
save her husband's life Nora secretly forges her father's signature and receives
a loan to finance a trip to the sea. Nora's naivety of the law puts her in a
situation that questions her morality and dedication. Nora is not aware that
under the law she is a criminal. She believes that her forgery is justified
through her motive. She is not a criminal like Krogstad because his crime was
simply a moral failing and not for the good of his family. A morally unjustified
crime is the only type of crime. Nora's believes that her love for her husband
is what propelled her to sign her father's name and pass it off as his own.

Nora's motive is to save her husband's life and keeping it secret is to save him
from pain and humiliation. If he knew, it would hurt his "manly
independence" (p. 22) and upset Nora and Torvald's "mutual
relations" (p.22). Nora knows that without forging her father's signature
she would not be able to save her husband. Nora uses her wit to find a way to be
able to overcome the shackles placed on her by society and get enough money to
save Torvald's life. In Uncle Vanya Chekov ends the play with Sonya and Uncle

Vanya returning to their normal lifestyle and forgetting about the upset

Serebryakov and Elena's presence creates. Sonya protests that she and her uncle
"will bear patiently bear the trials fate sends" (Chekov p. 230) and
"work for others" (p. 230). Sonya sacrifices her own happiness for
that of her father and stepmother. Sonya exudes every positive trait that
society contains. She sacrifices her life to work for her father without
questioning his motives for leaving. She dedicates herself to her family and
overlooks their flaws to help them. Sonya, Uncle Vanya, and Nora's make
sacrifices for the love of their family members and do so without questions. The
sacrifices made by the positive characters are far outweighed by the actions of
their counterparts. Torvald sees Nora's only role as being the subservient and
loving wife. He refers to Nora as "my little squirrel" (Ibsen p.12),
"song-bird" (p. 33) or "skylark" (p. 40). To him, she is
only a possession. Torvald calls Nora by pet-names and speaks down to her
because he thinks that she is not intelligent and that she can not think on her
own. Whenever she begins to voice an opinion Torvald quickly drops the pet-names
and insults her as a women. When Nora asks if he can reinstate Krogstad at the
bank he claims that she only asks because she fears that he will suffer the same
fate as her father. Nora realizes that living with Torvald prevents her from
being a real person. He treats her as a doll because that is what he wants. He
does not want a wife who will challenge him with her own thoughts and actions.

The final confrontation between the couple involves more oppression by Torvald,
but by this time Nora has realized the situation he wishes to maintain.