Both A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) and A Dolls House (1879) present the sacrificial role of women in society. Hosseini’s novel is about a woman who marries in order to be accepted and to please her family. Ibsen’s ‘well-made play’ shows a woman who goes against the law despite the consequences to support her family. In this essay I will discuss the sacrificial role of women in both these texts.
A Dolls House is set in the Victorian era, during this era women hardly had any rights, they weren’t allowed to take out loans, take their children and leave their husbands or own even own land. Henry Ibsen shows how oppression of women was a big factor that affected many lives during this era. Similarly, in ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ Hosseini gives the readers an insight as to how it was for women under the rule of the Taliban discriminated for something out of their control the ‘crime’ of being born a girl. During this era women had almost no rights they were prohibited from studying, going school and they had to wear the ‘burqa’. An interesting similarity between this is in A Dolls House Nora dresses in order to impress Helmer and to seek his approval similarly Mariam wears the burqa to seek Rashid’s approval. The theme of sacrifice is shown here although Mariam or Nora might not want to wear the ‘burqa’ or the ‘Neapolitan fisher-girl’s dress’ they sacrifice their views and opinion to satisfy their husband and wear it without questioning.
Both Hosseini’s ‘a thousand splendid suns’ and Ibsen’s ‘A Dolls House’ have leading women roles who fall victims to their husbands. Nora sacrificed herself and did anything to please her husband as she was blinded by his façade. Mariam sacrificed a lot too similarly she believed she was to blame for Rashid’s ‘continual’ assaults’ and his disregard for her, she was confused as to why Rashid treated her that way. Nora felt a similar way when Helmer found out she had taken a loan she couldn’t understand as to why he wouldn’t ‘sacrifice his honour for the one he loves’. Here we learn that Helmer only ‘thought it pleasant to be in love’ and didn’t actually love her correspondingly Rashid didn’t ever love Mariam he was just trying to fill the void of his dead wife son.
The sacrificial role of women Is furthermore explored when after all Nora went through breaking the law without any regard for the consequences after all those sacrifices Helmer never appreciated her not once even though she saved his life it was here when she came to the realisation that she owes it to herself to walk away. unfortunately, in A Thousand Splendid Suns Mariam didn’t have the option to walk away due to the laws in Afghanistan and how the Taliban had control over everything. Mariam had to take matters into her own hands in order to be free although her killing Rashid inevitably led to her to her death ‘she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back. She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian. A mother. A person of consequence at last.’ these were Mariam’s last thoughts before she was executed however Mariam left on her own terms and like Nora, they both sacrificed their loved ones as they both left them willingly. the ending of A Thousand Splendid Suns ultimately shows the sacrificial role of women as Mariam’s downfall was controlled by Rashid. Hosseini uses Mariam as a prime example of women who fall victims to a patriarchal society, Mariam’s whole life was male dominated her own death was due to killing her husband however she never fully escaped him as Rashid was still in control of her life even in death he led to Mariam’s downfall when she was hanged. Hosseini might have done this to show the readers the harsh reality and brutality that although Mariam sacrifice everything, she got nothing in return not even the slightest bit of appreciation. Similarly, Ibsen shows the audience how unfair the Victorian era was for women. This could make the reader/audience feel sympathetic for Mariam and Nora as being a woman in these times were difficult.