A Dolls House And Waiting For Godot

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Two almost completely different plays, A Doll's House and Waiting for Godot are in fact, very similar in the sense that the relationship between Torvald and Nora and Pozzo and Lucky are very alike. Though the tyrannical husband, Torvald, and Pozzo, the master of Lucky, may appear to have no common qualities what so ever, the way they treat their individual partners is in fact quite similar. 

Torvald of A Doll's House treats his wife, Nora, as he believes a wife should be treated - he leaves her to take care of the children, and views her as just a romantic plaything that he can easily influence into carrying out his personal desires. Pozzo of Waiting for Godot follows the same fit almost identically; although Lucky is his slave, he treats him deliberately bad.  Nora, to Torvald, is merely a 'silly girl,' someone younger than him physically and emotionally.  To him, her only jobs in their household are to take care of the children and to do the basic shopping, (though he scolds her for spending what he views to be too much money on the children's Christmas gifts.) 

Lucky, on the other hand, is lucky to receive even the slightest bit of attention from Pozzo.  He is treated in the same way of an abused dog, underfed, and neglected.  Pozzo throws him the bones from his own food in order to feed him; he does not think about the lack of dietary value, only of his own needs first.  Both Lucky and Nora are maltreated characters in their individual plays, Nora by her husband, and Lucky by Pozzo, both used only for their practical and entertaining aspects.  Though Nora of A Doll's House is repressed and mistreated by her controlling husband, Lucky suffers abuse and neglect from his master, therefore making him the more unfortunate of the two.

In Ibsen's "A Doll's House", there are many clues that hint at the kind of marriage Nora and Torvald have. It seems that Nora is a doll that is controlled by Torvald. Nora is completely dependent on Torvald.  His thoughts and movements are her thoughts and movements.  Nora is a puppet who depends on its puppet master for control over all of it's actions. The most apparent example of Torvald's physical control over Nora are visible when he teaches her the tarantella. Nora pretends that she needs Torvald to teach her every move in order to relearn the dance. The reader knows that this is an act, but it still shows her complete passiveness to Torvald. After he teaches her the dance, he proclaims: "When you were dancing the tarantella, chasing, inviting--my blood was on fire; I couldn't stand it any longer-that's why I brought you down so early.

Nora.  Leave me now, Torvald.  Please!  I don't want all this.

Torvald.  What do you mean?  You're only playing your little teasing bird game with me; aren't you, Nora?  Don't want to?  I'm your husband, aren't I?  (Isben 447)

This shows that Torvald is more interested in Nora physically than emotionally.  He feels that it is one of Nora's main duties as his wife to physically pleasure him at his command. This also shows the oppressive nature of Torvald in his relationship.

Lucky is whipped often. He is basically the horse pulling Pozzo's carriage in a relationship that comes of to be cruel and overbearing, and yet Lucky is strangely obsequious. In explaining Lucky's behavior, Pozzo says,"Why he doesn't make himself comfortable? Let's try and get this clear. Has he not the right to? Certainly he has. It follows that he doesn't want to. He imagines that when I see how well he carries I'll be tempted to keep him on in that capacity. As though I were short of slaves." [p21] In spite of his miserable condition, Lucky does not seem to want there to be any change. Maybe he is happy. Or Myabe he is not as miserableas we think. However from this we see that Pozzo does seem to have a great deal of control over Lucky even when he does not seem to realise it. This shows the empowerment which he has over their relationship.

Henrik Ibsen's play, A Doll's House, is filled with symbols that represent abstract ideas. These symbols effectively demonstrate the internal conflicts that are going on between the characters. A few of the symbols are the Christmas tree, New year's day, the title of the book and the nicknames Torvald called Nora emphasizes a theme of comparing perfect marriage relationship to the reality of the relationship, that is an artificial "Doll's House" relationship. The Christmas tree, a joyful entity meant to serve a decorative purpose, symbolizes Nora's position in her household as a plaything who is pleasing to look at. It also shows how in her relationship with Torvald, Nora plays very little significance to the main decisions. Whilst in Samuel Beckett's, Waiting for Godot the rope that is tied to Lucky is a symbolism of how Pozzo has a constant control over him and how he is tied down. This goes on further to imprint the idea that for a fact Pozzo is dominant in their relationship.

Towards the end of both plays we find the situations of the dominant partners changing. Pozzo becomes blind and in this new situation, it is less clear which character leads the other, or if either of them is really in control. As the stage directions read, Pozzo is blind...Rope as before, but much shorter, so that Pozzo may follow more easily. [p49.5] For the first time in the text, Pozzo is reliant on Lucky for direction; Lucky is dependent on Pozzo for the same reason, though this relationship is based on emotional, rather than physical, reliance. The shortness of the rope is necessary because Pozzo's blindness, affects their relationship; their new-found closeness makes it difficult for Pozzo to direct and for Lucky to be truly servile and completely pathetic. It is the same towards the end of A Doll's House as Nora realises thet she has just been a toy in the house and that her relationship with Torvald was indeed one that was a sham. The tables are turned and for once she is not the puppet but the puppet master, she leaves Torvald dependent on her and for once she calls the shots just like he always had.

In conclusion I believe that both relationships developed in both plays can be related to real life relationships. There is always someone more dominant than the other and there is always a weak and strong person. Looking at the relationships closely I believe that Lucky is infact more unfortunate than Nora as he is completely ignore by his partner whilst Nora gets some sort of appreciation. Both plays end in a dramatic twist, the tables are turned. The weak become the strong and the strong become the weak. We see two dominant characters fall in their relationship, and in disbelief we watch as the unexpected happens.

A Doll's House

Translator: Nicholas Rudall

Publisher: Ivan R. Dee

Date of publication: 1999

Place of publication: Chicago