How Shakespeare and Ibsen Treated their Women Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew and Ibsen's A Doll's House portray women in many ways. Both authors have strong feelings about women and weren't afraid to express them in their writing. Shakespeare's views about women differed greatly with those of Ibsen's. Both Kate, from Taming of the Shrew, and Nora, from A Doll's House, were mistreated by the men in their lives. Throughout this paper you will hear supporting details about how the two authors had contrasting ideas about the way men should treat women.
Throughout Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare portrayed women as objects or shrews that needed to be tamed. Kate was the daughter of a wealthy man named Baptista Minolta from Padua. She was the oldest sister and, under tradition of the time, had to be married first. Bianca, on the other hand, was the younger daughter and was courted by many.
Due to Kate's wild behavior, the suitors were afraid of her. Along came a man named Petruccio, who was determined to marry her and get the money that would be given to the man who marries her. Through Petruccio, Shakespeare exploited women.
With all of the male characters changing their identities, Shakespeare tried to portray the women as being ignorant and not realizing what was going on. With at least two major characters changing parts to get closer to their loved ones, the women seemed to be clueless. Shakespeare portrayed these women as being easily tricked. While it seemed like all the men were trying to suit Bianca, Petruccio was taming Kate.
With scenes such as when Petruccio denied Kate food, clothing, and gifts, women were further deprived of their dignity. That scene showed the power of the male over the female. Shakespeare also portrayed men, as being superior to women by having Petruccio seem more "cunning" than Kate. "This is a way to kill a wife with kindness." This was Petruccio's quote referring to the way he was treating Kate. He complimented her all the time and never took the answer "no". With Petruccio's control over Kate, Shakespeare further deprived women of their dignity.
While Shakespeare depicted women as ignorant shrews, Ibsen gave them the credit that they deserved as being human beings. In the time period that A Doll's House was written, women's roles were still limited to those of the "house-wife." Ibsen ignored these stereotypes and gave women the credit they so deserved.
In the story, A Doll's House, a woman named Nora was faced with a hard situation. She had to decide whether to break the law and save her husband's life, or let him die. She evidently chose to save his life, but this decision didn't come without strings attached. She had to borrow money from a friend, which back then wasn't proper for a woman to do. Ibsen gave women a little credit by showing them take chances, like Nora's borrowing money. Nora tried to pay the loan off secretly but that didn't work. Her husband found out and was furious. Now, Ibsen shows the bad side of men as where Shakespeare would not. He shows Torvald's bad side. As all men of that time, he automatically thinks of himself. Ibsen shows not only Torvald but also all men as always thinking of themselves. Which back then was probably true. Torvald immediately tries to pay off the parties involved and go about his normal life. During this time Ibsen shows Nora having a hard time. She can't go on with her children looking up to her. She believed herself to be an unfit parent. In her mind she sees herself as a person with no moral values who isn't allowed to be looked up to. With scenes like this one Ibsen shows the reader that women can have personal problems like men too.
Another example of Ibsen showing both sexes to be equal would be at the end of the story. Nora feels that her husband no longer loves her. Ibsen shows the reader that Nora has enough "strength" to leave her husband, which was not common back then. Ibsen shows women that if their husbands no longer love them, than they have the control to leave.
As you can see, the authors above have their own thoughts about women. Ibsen gives women the credit they deserve, while Shakespeare believes them to be inferior and ignorant. One thinks of women as animals to be tamed, while the other sees them as nothing different than a man.