The Father Figure in “To Dance with the White Dog”, “A Doll House” and “Young Goodman Brown”

In all three works we see that Father Figure incarnates authority and power. At the beginning of the works this figure is represented as a dogmatic figure, whose authority can not be put under doubt. Nora follows the will of her father and then husband and does not think about other ways of behavior. Goodman Brown thinks about his father when he breaks the rules and goes to the forest at night. He thinks that his father would never have done anything, which would put his good name under doubt. “Too far, too far!” exclaimed Goodman, unconsciously resuming his walk.

“My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians, since the days of the martyrs. And shall I be the first of the name of Brown, that ever took this path and kept” (Nawthorne 143). Father in “To Dance with the White Dog” is grief-stricken, his wife has died and left him alone. All the children and grandchildren try to help him, all the actions take plays around the father’s figure. What is notable, all the protagonists get rid of dogmatic influent of father figure by the end of the story. Nora realizes her father and husband’s influence on her life as destructive and takes a decision to change it. Goodman Brown sees his father turning to Devil during his walk to the forest and it becomes an eye-opener to him.

Father Figure and Its Interpretation

On other level of interpretation father’s figure in “Young Goodman Brown” becomes a symbol of God. Descending to the depth of his subconsciousness, Goodman Brown investigates and doubts the very basis of his faith. His attitude to church and religion changes significantly by the end of the story but it does not mean that he rejects them. After he sees true state of events he becomes able to make his own conclusions and decide on the influence of church and religious authorities in his further life. He says good-bye to his wife Faith and this gesture is very symbolic, like everything in this short story. Goodman Brown makes a conscious decision to leave his blind faith and authority and challenges social and moral norm and regulations. Stranger in the forest breaks Goodman’s illusions about his father. He states “it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth, to set fire to an Indian village, in King Philip’s war. They were my good friends, both; and many a pleasant walk have we had along this path, and returned merrily after midnight. I would fain be friends with you for their sake” (Hawthorne 41).

Satan, a man who accompanies Brown in his journey to the forest can also be interpreted as the father’s figure, created by the author. Transformation of Satan to Brown’s father only supports this thesis. In other words, “Hawthorne’s tragic hero repeats the sins of his fathers, and it becomes clearer that Man’s fate involves sin and struggles of faith. Another clue to Brown’s realization of sin is that he creates the devil figure in his own image. This acts as a projection of himself as the embodiment of evil” (Martin 134).

The figure of father appears as a kind of power, which limits female rights and prevents them from self-realization and development. Nora, the protagonist of the play, makes a long way before she is able to overcome this constant pressure created by men in the society in “The Doll House” by Henrik. At the beginning of the play nobody takes Nora seriously. All men she meets in her life treat her like a doll. They do not take her thoughts and feelings into account. ”At home, Daddy used to tell me what he thought, then I thought the same. And if I thought differently, I kept quiet about it, because he wouldn’t have liked it. He used to call me his baby doll, and he played with me as I used to play with my dolls.” (Ibsen 129).

Only after great transformation in her world view she can see true meaning of the role men have played in her life. After she changes her vision, the figure of Father ceases to be savior and protector, who supplies everything necessary for her living, and becomes incarnation of social pressure, which prevented women from the development.

“Patriarchy’s socialization of women into servicing creatures is the major accusation in Nora’s painful account to Torvald of how first her father, and then he, used her for their amusement. How she had no right to think for herself, only the duty to accept their opinions. Excluded from meaning anything, Nora has never been subject, only object”Â (Templeton 142).

In “To Dance with the White Dog” by Terry Kay see the development of Father’s character. At first he is helpless, he does not see his place in this world without his wife but then with the help of the white dog he finds a new path.

Father even develops new feature in his character. Now he becomes more careful and sympathetic, he starts behaving with other people with understanding. Showing the Sam’s figure in development Terry Kay emphasizes that the social structure has changed, as well as man’s position.

All the tree books are connected with the same theme ”“ the criticism of the previous century with its dogmatic ideals and limited human rights. Average people were not able to act as they wanted. It was the era when men ruled the world and so practically every literally work contains father’s figure. The progressive tendency is these works is the fact that father’s character changes all in all.

Female Figures in “The Doll House”

“The Doll House” by Henrik Ibsen is a play which tells a story of the transition of the main character Nora from obedient and submissive wife to free individual. Ibsen used a lot of means to accomplish the aim of the play and to deliver his message to the audience. The play is structured in such a way that those who read or watch the play can follow the development of the main character and the way she passes in transition from unconscious following the flow of life to conscious and active life position. The plot of the story gives us information about main and minor characters of the play. The author creates the picture of an “ideal” family. The first conflict starts when Mr. Krogstad breaks cloudless happiness of Nora’s careless life. Than the complications go, which appear with the development of the plot. We uncover new traits of Nora’s personality; get better understanding of minor characters till the play climaxes with the scene where Torvald, Nora’s husband, reads the first letter sent by Krogstad. True feelings of the characters are uncovered in these scenes and, what is the most important thing, they result the major change in the inner world of Nora, who realizes the fallaciousness of her way of life and takes serious decision to change it.

Resolution follows the climax. The main conflict of the play, the inner conflict of the protagonist is resolved and the readers can see the consequences it has for Nora and other characters of the play.

Mrs. Linde and Nora are different and alike at the same time. In the beginning of the play both women depend on the social opinion and sacrifice their freedom and identities for the sake of this opinion.  Nora lives the life of obedient and submissive wife trying to please her husband by any means. Mrs. Linde marries the man she doesn’t love in order to support her dependant relatives. They both do things they don’t want to do. At the same time we see that Mrs. Linde is much freer than Nora is. She had to learn to survive and knows how to make her living and take responsibilities. In one of the dialogs Mrs. Linde blames Nora in infantility and dependency on husband. Mrs. Linde’s character makes us understand Nora better. Another minor character, Dr. Rank, foils Torvald. His physical illness foils Torvald’s moral hard-heartedness and hypocrisy. His death is very symbolic as along with his death dies the marriage of Nora and Torvald. Black crosses on Dr. Rank’s letters mean not only his death but the end of the whole period in Nora’s life. Dr. Rank’s wish to hide his illness and to create the happy side by any means reflects Torvald’s desire to maintain appearances by any means, even sacrificing the feelings of his dear people.  Both, Mrs. Linde and Dr. Rank help us to get the better understanding of the main characters of the play and help to understand the spirit of the epoch described.

Father Figure in “Young Goodman Brown”

“Young Goodman Brown” was written in the year 1835 by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The story brightly depicts the Puritan society of the seventeenth century. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s style is ambiguous, he does not transmit his message directly. In “Young Goodman Brown” it is rather difficult to distinguish illusion from reality. The author does not give concrete facts; the reader must read the story very attentively and be ready to analyze it deeply. Every person can find in it something for himself and can understand it in different ways. The story is aimed to make the reader think. The story has two levels of interpretation.

The most mysterious event in the story is Goodman Brown’s journey to the night wood. This journey can be interpreted as an evil dream perhaps inspired by the Devil because Brown sees the feature that could be a Devil and he becomes the witness of the demonic ritual where he can see all the citizens of his native city: “Once the listener fancied that he could distinguish the accents of towns-people of his own, men and women, both pious and ungodly, many of whom he had met at the communion table, and had seen others rioting at the tavern” (Hawthorne 87).

On the first level of interpretation this short story is a sharp criticism of the religious society with its hypocrisy and lies. The main character of the story is shocked by the meeting of all good Christian citizens in the Black Mess in the forest. He meets religious leaders and his wife Faith in this mass. This meeting breaks Brown’s illusions about the goodness of society and opens his eyes on the reality. In this level of meaning Black Mess becomes an exaggeration the author uses to show the real state of event concerning the Church and religion. The name of Goodman’s wife, whom he leaves at home, is very symbolic. Her name is Faith and it is the faith that Goodman loses after the accident in the forest. He looses his faith together with his illusions after he discovers the truth about the society and people who surround him.

This trip can be also interpreted as a dream vision telling him the truth about human nature because Brown cannot realize, whether it was in reality or in his dreams, but he realizes that all the people are sinful and he cannot live among such people.

The second level of meaning describes universal questions concerning the human nature. The Black Mess in the dark forest points not only to the hypocrisy of the society and religious authorities but also to the dark part of the personality. It is his own hidden dark side, which Goodman meets in the forest. The author uses the Black Mess to show the part of personality people try to hide not only from others, but also from themselves. Goodman is an allegoric name. It stands for “everyman” or “commonman” and tells the reader that the protagonist of the story is not the overcome of pure evil but an ordinary person and any of the readers could be at his place.

By the end of the story we know that the main character looses his “goodness” and his innocence in the perception himself and others. It is not very important whether the Black Mess was a dream or a real accident, as the events of that night will never be forgot by the protagonist.

New Life after Wife’s Death

In “To Dance With the White Dog” by Terry Kay the development of father’s character is shown with the help of symbolic white dog. At first nobody could see this mysterious dog and children cannot believe their father that it exists and only at the end of the story we realize that it is real. Father learns to live in this world without his wife and this dog is the only character that is able to help him. Father’s character is show in the development. He learns to be careful and sympathetic. He always lived in his own world where his wife took care about him. His main function was to show his power as a man. After his wife’s death he realized that everything has changed around him and he must realize new social norms and adapt to them. This father’s adaptation to the new life shows that the whole social system has changed.


During centuries the figure of man was dominant in the society. He always was the bread-winner of the whole family.

Men are always associated with strength and power and it is explained by their historic mission. The man’s figure is represented in a lot of literary works. The Father Figure is central in “To Dance with the White Dog”, “A Doll House” and “Young Goodman Brown” but it is described in different ways. In “To Dance with the White Dog” we see Father’s adaptation to the surrounding world. At first the father is not ready to live without his caring wife, who devoted herself to her husband. Sam understands that the world has changed and that his wife is dead now but he cannot accept it. Nevertheless, he returns to the real life step by step and the white dog is the only living creature that is able to help him in his adaptation to a new world. In “A Doll House” Nora represents all women who were and even are nowadays depressed by men. At first she is only a doll for men but by the end of the story he is able to demonstrate that she is a personality with her own thoughts, feelings and worldview. On her example we see how the woman’s place has been changing in the society. The Figure of Father gradually transforms through the play and we can see how positive attitude is changed into negative one. From caring and protecting, the father figure becomes dominant and oppressing one. Only this switch of the attitude helps Nora to change hew life and start a search for her own identity.  In “Young Goodman Brown” the author draws the parallel between the father and the Satan. Goodman realized that his father is not an ideal person, the myth about father’s purity and power breaks to pieces.

To sum up, all three works are dedicated to a new theme ”“ the place of the man in a new society. All three works of art show gradual switch from dogmatic ideals and strict rules and transition to the era of free possibilities and equality and main characters on their examples show their adaptation to a new epoch.

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