Nora and Medea: Are they unconventional wives in a male-dominated society?

Essay by frosie May 2004

download word file, 6 pages 4.0

Downloaded 44 times

Medea, in 'Medea', and Nora, in 'A Doll's House', are both women who seem to suffer badly at the hands of their husbands in two male-dominated societies; the former in ancient Greece, the latter in nineteenth century Norway. Each does something important for her husband involving personal sacrifice, for which she expects certain treatment in return, but when this is not forthcoming, how do they react? Do they accept the roles of conventional wives, demure and weak? Or do they rebel and behave unconventionally?

Medea's culture dictated that women had almost no rights, and were regarded as little more than possessions: "we have to buy a husband [and] what we buy is someone to lord it over our body." Although Nora's culture allowed women more rights, they were still forbidden certain privileges; for example, "a wife can't borrow without her husband's consent." This shows the male dominated societies the two women lived in, and the inferior role the wife was expected to play.

Medea was not, however, quite the conventional female of her culture for she is described as, "a lioness, not human, wilder than Tyrrhenian Scylla." Her use of masculine language - "I would rather fight three times," - suggests she is almost male despite being a 'model' wife of her time: "I have borne you sons." Nora also acts unconventionally for her era, "[borrowing] without her husband's consent," but is still a stereotypical wife in a sense, playing with her children and being her husband's inferior, a 'featherbrain' and 'skylark'.

The sacrifices made by Medea for her husband Jason are considered "evil arts" in her society, and cause her banishment. It is interesting to note that Medea made those sacrifices because her heart was, "smitten with love for Jason." She even lists them...