Although they are motivated by different fears, racial taint and masculine taint, both Armand from The Father of Desiree's Baby and Torvald from A Doll's House possess a number of similarities.They are both protective of what they perceive to be their good reputations and both vested with a fair amount of pride.This is not to say that they are perfectly similar,they most certainly are not,and their most striking differences revolve around the motivations underlying their pride and their willingness or unwillingness to forgive. This essay will examine their similarities and differences as men and husbands.More specifically, this essay will argue that male pride and social conservatism functioned to sharpen the conflicts in the marriages of both men.As a preliminary matter, both Armand and Torvald are prideful men and this pride extends to heir role as husbands.Armand, for instance, has been born into wealth as the child of a wealthy family from Louisiana.When he marries, he selects the daughter of another wealthy Louisiana family. He would appear to be steeped in tradition and proud of his heritage and the tradition.His pride is well-noted by his wife, Desiree whom when commenting about the birth of their new baby, states that "Oh, Armand is the proudest father in the parish, I believe, chiefly because it is a boy, to bear his name; though he says not, -- that he would have loved a girl as well. But I know it isn't true". (Chopin, 70). A careful analysis of Armand's character demonstrates that he comes from a respectable family, that he has married well, and that he is probably quite proud that his child is a man capable of continuing his good name and his family's traditions. There is, implicit in his prideful character, a strong element of social conservatism. This means that Armand values family, appearances, and the white race which presumably represent his being. The subsequent conflict, questions about the racial purity of the child and of Desiree, play out against this backdrop of Armand's prideful nature and the social conservatism of the era in which he existed.
Torvald can be similarly characterized, though the parallels are not perfectly symmetrical. He, like Armand, is a man full of pride. He is not as wealthy as Armand, quite the contrary, but he is proud of his role as male provider for his wife and for his new promotion which will solidify his role as the male provider. He expresses this pride in the form of admonishments to his wife; the admonishments mainly center on her own financial inferiority and the need to maintain an austere lifestyle. At one point, early on in the play, he says to Nora, "That is like a woman! But seriously, Nora, you know what I think about that. No debt, no borrowing. There can be no freedom or beauty about a home life that depends on borrowing and debt. We two have kept bravely on the straight road so far, and we will go on the same way for the short time longer that there need be any struggle" (Ibsen, Act 1, n.p.). A close examination of the text illustrates that Torvald's pride is operating at many independent levels. First, he is proud of the fact that he is a man rather than a woman and he associates an intellectual superiority and knowledge of the world to his masculinity. Second, he is quite proud of the fact that he can support his household without debt or borrowing, a fact which is untrue, but his false belief is another source of tremendous pride. Finally, he is proud of the fact that his new promotion at work will lead to more money.
It is these similarities between Armand and Torvald, their pride as reflective of the social conservatism of their eras, that ultimately led to their respective crises. For Armand, he was unable to accept that his wife and his son might have been partially black; as a result, he banished both from his home, burned their belongings, and later had to digest the ironically bitter fact that he