Men are often believed to be the wisest, strongest, and more intelligent of the two genders. In narratives they are often shown to be compelling and brilliant. However frequently coupled with man’s brilliance is a trait of ignorance. That is just the case in the play, “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen; and in the tragedy, “Oedipus the King”. In “A Doll’s House”, the main male character is man by the name of Torvald Helmer. Torvald’s dominance over his wife, Nora, is repeatedly shown throughout the play. Torvald adopts the belief that a man’s role in marriage is to protect and steer his wife.
He clearly enjoys the idea that Nora needs his guidance, and he interacts with her as a father would. Ironically, Torvald seizes all the power in the marriage yet, he seems to be the weaker and more childlike character. In the opening of “Oedipus the King”, Oedipus appears to be a man of swift action, great insight and general concern for his subjects. Oedipus also seems to be overly confident, but with good reason. He has saved Thebes from the curse of the Sphinx, and becomes king virtually overnight.
But as the story progresses, we see that Oedipus’s swift action has a more dangerous side. To compare a king, to a common man seems to be dubious, but these two men have analogous personalities. But as suspected there are also dissimilarities in their personality as well. Perception can be explained to be the apprehension by the means of senses. How people perceive you can often influence your words and actions. In both “A Doll’s House” and in “Oedipus the King” perception is a driving force behind the characters actions.
Torvald and Oedipus are both very conscious of how they are perceived amongst their peers, or subjects. In “A Doll’s House”, after Nora pleads with Torvald to allow Krogstad’s position at the bank to be reinstated Torvald’s response is Krogstad would, “make him a laughing stock of him before the entire staff”. This illustrates how Torvald prioritizes his appearance over the request of others. Another example exemplified in the play, “A Doll’s House” is Torvald’s reaction to Nora’s dishonesty.
Torvald condemns Nora’s character, and says she ruined their family’s happiness. Yet when she presses to leave, his main concern is to uphold “the appearance” of their household. In “Oedipus the King”, the citizens of Thebes hold Oedipus upon a pedestal due to him saving the city in years past; but now that a plague has rocked Thebes the citizens view of King Oedipus is shaken. Oedipus responds to their distress saying, “Here I am myself—you all know me, the world knows my fame: I am Oedipus…You can trust me, I am ready to help. Oedipus attempts to mold a positive image of himself by alluding to his past success and explaining that he is willing to do anything for his subjects. Both characters understand that how people perceive them is important to their careers, and they will say anything to uphold a positive image. To have complete control over your emotions is a desirable quality. To be even temper at all times, can be useful in almost any situation. This is a quality neither, Torvald or Oedipus encompasses.
Both men seem to be level headed in the exposition of their particular stories, but as more character information is revealed we see this is false. In “Oedipus the King”, Oedipus appears to be a man of composure and poise. However it is revealed later in the tragedy, while he was on a road fleeing Corinth due to his outrage of a past oracle he killed a caravan of men, including the king of Thebes, Lauis. As we read on we find that in his rage, Oedipus unknowingly kills his own father. Torvald illustrates his lack of equanimity when he reacts to Nora’s dishonesty over past loans.
Although, Nora withdrew money on his behalf, Torvald was unforgiving and had a deaf ear. Torvald reprimands Nora on several occasions. Torvald stated Nora was, “…a liar— a hypocrite— and worse off a criminal. You have no morals, no values and no sense. ” Torvald relentlessly rants of Nora’s ill character, until he realizes that all the debt has been forgiven. He quickly tries to erase the condescending words he has spoken, but it is in vain. Due to their swift tempers, both of these male characters make colossal mistakes that cannot be forgiven.
Both of their errors result in a consequence that is substantial yet fitting. Although, these two characters have parallels in their personality, they also have differences in their personality as well. Oedipus is seen to have a very open and exposed life style. He doesn’t object if others know about his personal affairs; he actually invites them. This is expressed when Creon has traveled back from Delphi with news from the god, Apollo. Creon states that he feels this is a private matter and should be spoken within the concealed walls of the palace.
Oedipus then opposes stating, “Speak out, speak to us all. I grieve for these, my people; far more that I fear my own life. ” Oedipus feels that his bare lifestyle will make him seem inviting as a king, but what he doesn’t understand is citizens shouldn’t know everything that is going on in the government. Censuring to an extent can prevent anarchy. This is opposite of Torvald’s life style. Torvald has more of a closed off and intimate life style. He doesn’t feel the need to express his personal affairs to anyone, not even his own spouse.
In “A Doll’s House”, it seems whenever a situation becomes tense and uncomfortable Torvald retreats to his office to get away from the situation. This is made known when Krogstad and Nora get in a heated argument over her debts. This quarrel is right down the hall of Torvald Helmer, but he is oblivious because he is in his study. This seems to be Torvald’s true weakness. It is his ignorance to the things in plain sight. The differences in of the two characters seem to be the two characters main flaws. Their ignorance to their error, make conditions more ill than enhance.
The similarities of the two male characters are corresponding and easily comparable; but both Oedipus and Torvald have dissimilarities in their personality as well. These men’s ignorance to the flaws of their personality affects not only themselves but those who surround them. Both men should understand the blunder in their ways and strive to mend them. In the end, it can be said that although these men have great authority and power over those they rule, they are the ones who should be tamed and humbled.