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Control Factor: Torvald And Bernarda Essay, Research Paper

Control Factor: Torvald and Bernarda

Two classical works started a movement that echoed in time. The first book A Doll s House is a great masterpiece written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879. He is the father of modern realistic prose drama. The second book The House of Bernarda Alba written by Federico Garcia Lorca in 1936 shocked the world because nothing so outrageous had been published. The book is about the plight of women in the towns of Spain. Both are tales of the suppression of women and the feminist movement. In Ibsen s work we encounter Nora Helmer, a naive housewife, dominated by her husband Torvald Helmer. She borrows money and her husband finds out and she leaves him. In Lorca s work Bernarda Alba dominates her daughters and drives one to suicide. However, other forces control both Torvald and Bernarda. Such as society, which controls their actions by fitting, them in a mold of what they should be doing. In their works, Ibsen and Lorca portray Torvald and Bernarda as people who control and are controlled. Torvald and Bernarda control the people that are close to them both control money issues in the house. Also society controls Torvald and Bernarda.

In their respective works, Ibsen and Lorca depict Torvald and Bernada as individuals who control people that are close to them. In Torvalds case he dictates to her what she should do and what not. Both characters manifest despotic characteristics. Which they enforce upon loved ones I should not think of going against your wishes (Ibsen 4). We see Nora following what Torvald commands her to do his domineering state undermines her authority. Parallel to Torvald is Bernarda she controls them even more then Trovald. She goes one step farther. Almost to the point of abusing them at one point she beats them with her cane to get them under her control. Sh-h-h-h! (Garcia Lorca 163). At this point, she tells Magdelena, one of her other daughters, to be quiet and not to say anything during the funeral. She also does not let one of her daughters to see a man and marry him. Since her daughter is ugly she can t get anyone to marry her. Her mother, being the controlling psychopath that she is won t let her marry that one guy that likes her. The reason that Ibsen and Lorca created such dominating characters was to show that women were being oppressed not just by the male gender but also by other females.

Another key issue is to see who really controls the money in the house. From reading the book one finds that Torvald and Bernarda control all the money. Every time we read about Nora we see her begging for money. You might give me money. (Ibsen 3). When she asks Torvald for money we can infer that she dose not work yet another effect of an oppressed society. Could this also be another form of control that he puts upon her by not letting her be able to fend for herself? Bernarda hurts her children more than helping them. In their town none of the men in the town are worthy enough for her daughters. However, moving to another town would damage her pride. The men in this town are not of their class. (Garcia Lorca 168). The others cannot move out of the town because they don t have enough money. However, the one daughter who was married has the money but Bernarda is the decision maker and so she has control. When you control the money you control the person and people will have to do what you say without hesitation.

Many individuals were blinded by the expectations that society places on them. Furthermore society places upon the head of the household to be able to control all the other inhabitants of the house. Also they are controlled by society to lay these expectations upon the others. Ibsen and Lorca, give us a viewpoint that exemplifies the nature of a controlling person. The authors depict Torvald and Bernarda as controlling people. Thus controlling nature drives the others farther away instead of closer. When Torvald hears of Noras actions he goes crazy. No, that is all over. From this moment happiness is not the question; all that concerns us is to save the remaining, the fragments, the appearance. (Ibsen 63). We see that society influences Torvald to see what society wants him to see and not the truth that his wife sacrificed a lot to keep him alive and well.

In Bernarda Alba the same society pressure is felt upon Bernarda and the daughters keeping them separated. The men in this town are not of their class. (Garcia Lorca 168). Here again she has to marry up instead of settling with what she has. Keeping her daughters emotionally away from her and leading to the suicide of her daughter.

They control the ones close to them by belittling them. Why would this be

effective considering the other abuse? Well, by calling them names you are belittling them and robbing them of any self-esteem. This technique backs up the controlling issue. When a person has no self-esteem they are in your hands and can t do much. Is my little squirrel out of temper? (Isben 3). Torvald undermines her confidence by calling her names like squirrel or little. Ibsen cleverly implements this all throughout the book reaffirming the theme of plight of women. However, nowhere in the book does Nora actually call him a name but he constantly calls her names. Bernarda also does this but makes it hurt. Spineless! Painted hussy! Just like your aunts! (Garcia Lorca 175). Of course, the time is not right to put on makeup but she does not need to go to such an extent and call her a spineless painted hussy. This lowers Angustias (daughter) self-esteem level, which lets her control her. Both author make this well known all throughout the book actually in a way highlighting it for us to see. Almost as if it were a key issue in there works name calling can be very destructive.

Also another thing that controlled Toravald and Bernarda is there morals. Torvald never wants to be in a position of debt and will do anything to stay debt free. Even if it means running over his wife and kids and so he has to control them. Like a Doll in a dollhouse being controlled. That is like a woman! But seriously, Nora, you know what I think about that. No debt, no borrowing. (Ibsen 2). Since she has borrowed money has she asks him to borrow money but he refuses due to his morals. This control doesn t make sense because the wife should have the ability to do what she wants. Bernarda also exhibits control by morals, which in turn controls the daughters. Is that a\the fan to give to a widow? Give me a black one and learn to respect your father s memory. (Garcia Lorca 164). She could have just told the child not give her a colored one but a black one and explained why not to give a colored one. Instead of yelling at her which yet again gives her low self-esteem.

In only one case Bernarda controls the servants while Torvald doesn t. She doesn t take care of Poncia much, which could lead to further problems in the future. She s not eating today so she d just as soon we d die of hunger! Domineering old tyrant! But she ll be fooled! I opened the sausage crock. (Garcia Lorca 157). She won t feed them right that way they are all ways after her. Sooner or later there probably going to get her. Tyrant over everyone around her. She s perfectly capable of sitting your heart and watching you die for a whole year without turning off that coiled little smile she wears on her wicked face. (Garcia Lorca 158). Again we see her talking about Beranrda because she controls them and they would like to be free.

At the end of all this we find that Torvald and Bernarda are manifestations of the controlling domineering man or women at the time created by their respective authors. At the center is the plight of women and how they deal with it. To resolve this problem either person should sit down and talk about it. Ibsen and Lorca show Torvald and Bernarda as controllers and people who are controlled by society. This controlling effect usually does more harm than good. For example, at the end of A Doll s House Nora leaves Torvald and she realizes that she must develop on her own. In the other book she drives one of the daughters to death and distorts the other daughters lives.

Garcia Lorca, Federico. Three Tragedies: Blood Wedding, Yerma, and The House of

Bernarda Alba: A Drama About Women in the Villages of Spain. Trans. James

Graham-Lujan and Richard L. O Connell. New York: New Directions, 1947.


Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll s House. 1879. New York: Dover, 1992.

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