Realism in Uncle Vanya and A Doll\'s House

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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