Federico Garcia Lorca's “The House of Bernarda Alba” and Henrik Ibsen's “A Doll's House” both protest against the confinement of women of their days. Although the Houses are set differently in Spain of 20th century and Norway of 19th century respectively, both the plays relate in illuminating their respective female protagonists, Adela and Nora, as they eventually develop a sense of individuality and self-expression and emerge as free individuals from repression. The authors’ attempts allow the reader audience to gain an insight into the social norms that each protagonist was pitted against. This heightens the tension as the action develops.
Both Adela and Nora are inherently individualistic, and their innate nature is bared especially when they covertly display defiance in occasions of high social expectations. After observing her husband’s death, Bernarda declares a long period of mourning – according to the traditional societal beliefs – and orders her daughters to be confined within the walls of their house and to wear only black. But, Adela, disobeys her mother by cheerfully wearing a colourful dress of zealous green and by going out of the house “to look for what is [hers], what belongs to [her]” (Lorca 165) – Pepe el Romano. In A Doll’s House, while Mrs Linde expects, according to society, that “a wife can’t borrow without her husband’s permission,” (Ibsen 20) Nora leaks out her insubordinate action of borrowing. She even dares to forge her father’s sign, but more importantly, she individually decides for herself why she has to forge – to save “her husband’s life” (Ibsen 34) on her own.
The pressure to comply with the traditional conventions of society induces the central characters of both the plays to masquerade. Appearing as an innocent “poor little thing” (Lorca 132) to Magdalena, Adela confidently thinks of herself as a camouflaged “wild rabbit” (Lorca 142) that cannot be caught by Poncia, who knows the real sexually passionate Adela; Adela is confident since she deceives Bernarda to believe that Adela has “never gone against [her] will.” (Lorca 151) Adela has determined that “no one can keep what has to happen from happening” and that she would masquerade to escape the pressure within the “walls of the corral” – the pressure to conform – even if numerous rules, in the form of a “four thousand yellow flares,” are imposed. (Lorca 142) Likewise, Nora of Doll’s House assumes the mask of her husband Torvald’s “pretty little thing” (Ibsen 22), a “little squirrel” (Ibsen 46), and a submissive “dolly-wife.” (Ibsen 82) She does so because Torvald expects her to accept that he is right in not indulging her “little whims” (Ibsen 21) and expects her to see her “dancing” and “reciting” (Ibsen 22) as per his wishes – he expects her to be a doll under his control. So, she finds “a way [herself]” (Ibsen 21) – the way of deception – to follow her own heart.
The revelation of the secrets Nora and Adela keep marks the end of their deception and thus...