Disguises and masks can not only change or alter the way one looks, but can also hide one’s true personality. Even though Woman at Point Zero and A Doll’s House are two different genres and in different cultural settings, one can find repeated references to the role of disguises in both texts. Both Nawal El Saadawi and Henrik Ibsen initially cover their main characters, Firdaus and Nora under physical and emotional disguises. The role of physical disguises highlights how both women have to mould themselves in order to fit into stereotypes created by society.
Furthermore, emotional disguises emphasize the desperate measures taken by the both the protagonists to maintain their lifestyle. In addition, the climaxes of both works are based on the removal and disposal of disguises. Both authors write these books to relay their thoughts about women empowerment and the issue of the removal of disguises plays a big part in portraying the freedom they obtain after being suppressed. Firdaus mentions that “the skillful lines penciled around [her] eyes [hints] at just the right combination of attraction and rejection” (12).
The diction is “skillful” implies that Firdaus is apparently good at the art of hiding herself under a disguise. It also shows that she is fulfilling her purpose of attracting men. The antithesis between “attraction and rejection” shows the power Firdaus has because she understands the psychology of men and what they want. It also shows the games she must play with men, it’s all just a game of power and Firdaus uses these means to gain an upper hand over men in her society to obtain the power. The tone of “unbelievably beautiful” exhibits the pride and satisfaction Helmer felt when his wife was praised.
This implies that social approval is a central part of his life and therefore he desires his wife to dress up in order increase his social standing. Nora’s purpose is to be Helmer’s “doll-wife” as she knows that this is the only way to maintain her marriage while Firdaus disguises herself in order to attain a high position in the society. Both Firdaus and Nora put on masks to fit into the stereotypical roles of women created by their respective societies. Firdaus in Woman at Point Zero slips on an emotional disguise in order to fulfill her materialistic aims.