Comparison of the Characters in "A Doll\'s House" and "The Stranger"


In the real world there exist many different people, of different races
and ages, each one unique. Some live secluded lives with few friends and others
live very rich and complex lives surrounded by friends and acquaintances. No
matter what type of life is led it is human nature to adjust one\'s external
personality to suit the specific situation, much like putting on and removing
different masks. People tend to be polite and respectful to others in public
even though they may not know the person well or not care for them, yet behind
closed doors that mask may disappear and their true feelings may come to the
surface. People may adjust their external behaviour and attitudes when around
others because they may not like their true selves and either want to change
themselves or just merely fit in with society and be liked by others. Another
mask that is often worn is the powerful and superior one and so to feel
superior when among others pushes them around and becomes a bully. This same
person could be gentle, nice and kind when around family but may feel the need
to appear superior around other people. This form of adjusting one\'s
personality or mask to suit a situation in life, is also common among characters
in novels, dramas, and other forms of literature. In certain characters it is
evident in the novel The Stranger and the play A Doll\'s House . In some
instances it is quite easy to notice but other times it may be difficult to
identify the changes in character\'s masks as the changes slowly develop
throughout the plot.

A form of mask wearing was found at the beginning of the novel The
Stranger, where Meursault goes to the beach to go swimming and meets Marie
Cardona. She was lying on a float when Meursault was swimming towards it. "She
turned toward [him]. Her hair was in her eyes and she was laughing."(20) Later
on when both Meursault and Marie go swimming together "She laughed the whole
time,"(20) and then on the dock while they were drying themselves off Marie
playfully says "I\'m darker than you."(20) She puts on a type of giggly, flirty
mask when around Meursault, probably because she likes him and wants to be
friendly with him. It did not seem like a serious interest at first because it
appears that Marie is a very friendly and joyous person who seems like she only
wants to have fun, giggle a lot and behave like a ‘bubble head\'. But later on
in the novel it is found that Marie is not so stupid and ‘bubble headed\' after
all and that her giggly attitude was simply to get more acquainted with
Meursault. It was the mask she used to get Meursault interested and did not
reflect her true intentions. When Marie goes over to Meursault\'s house, and
after an exchange of kisses, Marie puts on a more serious tone and asks
Meursault the question "...if I (Meursault) loved her (Marie)"(35). Meursault
then replies "...that [he] didn\'t think so..."(36) which leaves Marie quite sad
and somewhat broken hearted because it seemed as if both Meursault and Marie
knew that their relationship wouldn\'t last but in fact Marie did want to make
something out of it. Evidence for this is that she constantly asks Meursault if
he loves her and also if they should get married.

The beginning of the play A Doll\'s House is similar to the beginning of
the novel The Stranger in that both Nora and Marie appear playful and childlike
but we later discover that again this is merely a mask. In The Stranger, as
stated before, Marie is very childish and giggly when she meets Meursault. The
same goes for Nora. She appears very childish in the opening scene when Helmer
calls her "my little skylark"(148) and "little squirrel"(148). She hides her
macaroons like a child hiding something that she should not have, before going
to see Torvald her husband. This seemed to be an act or a mask because it is
unusual to see a normal woman act like a child. It is not totally obvious at
first that Nora is hiding anything from others or even that she is wearing a
mask. Not until later in the story when Mrs. Linde comes does Nora drop the
mask and reveal her true self when Mrs. Linde and Nora start talking about how
Nora got the money in order to send her husband Torvald to