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Choose 2 from: Death of a Salesman, Streetcar Named Desire and A Doll's House

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Hey everyone,

For my English A1 Extended Essay I wanted to write a comparative essay between 2 of the three plays above, but I can't decide which 2! I was looking at possibly themes of self identity (loss of self identity, and the need to preserve our identity in a repressive world) or the role of the female/or gender roles or attitudes towards Death and Mortality, or the dichotomy between reality and illusion. The 3 plays I'm looking at are:

1) Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller

2) A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennesse Williams

3) A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen

Having not studied any of these plays before I was just wondering if someone who had studied them could give me some tips on which 2 would work best. :)

Thanks!

x

Edited by pear.babe

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I only studied 1) Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller it's a good play to write about there is many event you can discuss an evaluate however you will fell very disparate after reading or studying this novel . luck

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I think that if you want to focus on female characters A Streetcar Named Desire and A Doll's House would be better, but make sure someone hasn't done that already! IB students have learnt that IB examiners love all things feminist, so that's always the first topic they go for. :P Both Blanche and Nora are extremely interesting characters to explore, so you could definitely do something with that. As far as Death of A Salesman goes, it's a brilliant play for analysis. I've read it roughly 7 times and each time I find something new that I hadn't caught before. The only thing I would advise is making sure the topics aren't too obvious, because Reality/Illusion play a huge part in both Blanche and Willy's lives and I would think that someone had already done that. Societal expectations could be another topic, perhaps. Nora is very driven by what society expects of her, often dumbing herself down to a standard which seems acceptable. Willy is driven by his need for success and attaining the American Dream and by the need to make Biff succeed. There's a lot you could do, really. I would suggest making a list of all the themes/motifs you can find in all three plays and then see how you can connect them.

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I have only read A Doll's House, but here are some ways you could analyze the characters.

Regarding self identity, you could explore Nora, Torvald, Krogstad, or Mrs. Linde.

The story itself is representative of the structure of society in the Victorian Era. Nora is forced to wear a facade throughout most of her life in order to appease society. This facade consists of remaining a dutiful wife and allowing Torvald to orchestrate her actions. This absence of freedom leads to a lack of individuality and personal knowledge within Nora. Torvald is also unsure of his identity because he too is forced to succumb to society's pressures. He is continuously worried over how others will judge him and his family (his anger over Nora's forgery ids a result of his fear of other's judgement of her actions). As a result, he is unable to fully be himself and instead must present a perfect picture to society.

Krogstad and Mrs. Linde are fighting for their identity throughout the play. Krogstad's reputation was ruined, but he hopes to salvage his identity by blackmailing Nora. He is willing to undertake whatever means necessary to ensure that his reputation is not tarnished again. Mrs. Linde is determined to find happiness after her siblings grow and mother dies. She has no one to take care for and seeks Krogstad out in order to fill these vacancies.

Mrs. Linde is unconcerned with society's judgement and eventually Nora reaches this same conclusion. Mrs. Linde does not care about Krogstad's bad reputation and how a relationship with him may reflect negatively on herself. Nora develops this stance at the end of the play and bears no concern over how society will judge her for leaving her family. They put their happiness first and hope to find her identities.

I think there is a lot you could explore with how these characters either choose to find their identity or instead allow society to block them from finding it.

Edited by slimers7

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