In A Jury of Her Peers, the county attorney George Henderson is trying to solve the murder in the whole drama. He makes the sexist comment in the first clash between the male characters and the female ones. He thinks that women only worry about things that don’t matter. He thinks that the kitchen stuff like washing the dishes and making jam is only women things that are unimportant. He looks down women’s kitchen when he says, “Here’s a nice mess”. He also gets mad when there are dirty towels that he kicks Mrs. Wright’s pans and pot.
George Henderson only sees the women as housekeepers. He thinks that if the women are unable to do the unimportant things like housework, it is a failure as a human being. In the whole play, George makes one patronizing comment after another to Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale. He makes patronizing comments with Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Hale about the quilt and birdcage. It reflects that George is a misogynist. As George Henderson is a county attorney, his social status is higher than other characters. In fact, the law itself is also misogynist.
A Jury of Her Peers was written in the historical period in which political activists in the US were campaigning for women’s suffrage through all forms of social protest. At this time, women could not vote. Women had no right in the law. It shows the inequality of gender and represent the male-centric society. Since the playwright, Susan wanted to break the then prevalent bias about female gender, at the end of the play present a dramatic irony. At the end of the play, the women know how to make fun to men. George says that at least the women knew that Mrs. Wright was not going to quilt the quilt. He asks Mrs. Wale and Mrs. Peter to tell him how Mrs. Wright was going to do the quilt. Mrs. Hale put the dead bird in her pocket and says that Mrs. Wright was going to knot it.
This scene is dramatic irony. When George Henderson is finding out the evidence with the men, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter have already figured out who is the murderer and what is the evidence. If the women do not concern about “the women stuff”, then they could not find the evidence and solve the mystery by finding the dead bird. It shows that the unimportant woman stuff is not just trifles after all. It represents that the women know something that men do not know and the sense of superiority of George is undercut. In A Doll House, Torvald Helmer is an overbearing character. His attitude toward women is also negative. He thinks that his wife, Nora Helmer need his guidance after the marriage because a helpless woman is needed to lead by a man in this complicated world. He needs to give instruction to Nora like her father did because he thinks it is men’s responsibility to take care of everything in the men-centric society.
Torvald regards himself as his wife’s protector and treats her like a child. He thinks that a woman is attractive if she is panic. Torvald Helmer always disrespects his wife. For instance, he calls Nora a silly name and scolds her for wasting money to eat macaroons. When he gives advice on Nora the proper way to dress up and dance the tarantella, he treats Nora less than a child. She is only a thing he can play with, a doll. It seems that Nora does not seem to mind the way her husband treats her. She wants her husband’s love and craves for the marriage in her life. She is willing to sacrifice her life to her husband. This makes Torvald become more self-center and disrespect women.
In Act 3, while Torvald and Nora are having conflict, Torvald even says that her wife is “doubly his own”. He thinks that Nora has become both wife and child in his mind. Torvald Helmer is conscious of others’ perceptions of him and his social status in the community. He even prioritized his own reputation over Nora’s desires. For instance, Nora request Torvald for keeping Krogstad at the office. He rejects it and saying that Krogstad would make him like a laughing stock in the company. He only cares about his standing in society. Moreover, Torvald only concern about the appearance of his family and his wife. He feels proud in presenting his wife to others. Therefore, he allowed Nora to remain in his house and raise their children in spite of ruining his own happiness.
The sense of superiority of Torvald Helmer is undercut in the play. There is a case of dramatic irony in the play. Torvald promises to Nora that he will sacrifice his happiness and dignity if there is some danger to threaten Nora. This is what he says in his promise. “Let what will happen, happen. When the real crisis comes, you will not find me lacking in strength or courage. I am man enough to bear the burden for us both.” However, when the threat happens, Torvald becomes coward and self-center who will not sacrifice himself for his wife. His response to his wife is ‘How could it help if you were gone from his world? It wouldn’t assist me… I may easily be suspected of having been an accomplice in your crime. People may think… We must appear to be living together… But the children shall be taken out of your hands. I dare no longer entrust them to you.’ It shows that only care about himself. Although Torvald treats his wife as a child, he is actually a childish character who is overprotected. When Dr. Rank, the close friend of the Helmer family explains that he does not want Torvald to get in his sickroom. He thinks that Torvald cannot face anything ugly. He is protected like a child. Moreover, the reason for his objection to working with Krogstad is his narrow-minded and petty. Krogstad does not give him proper respect. He feels offended by Krogstad and fires Krogstad.