House of Lords Reform Essay

House of Lords Role and Powers
In comparison with the House of Commons, the House of Lords powers are restricted. Their political clout is owed more to convention and tradition. The House has no influence on any bills relating to government finance and although it has the authority to stall any acts of parliament for up to a year, the Commons can cite the Parliament Act 1949 – an act introduced by Labour that effectively removed the delaying privileges of the Lords – to swiftly defeat any motion.
However, the Lords do hold the jurisdiction to veto any bill that may prolong a government’s tenure in office. Each government can only rule for five years without a general election. Therefore, the Lords can block any move by the Commons to extend a regime beyond their legal term. Incidentally, this power has never been used in practice.
The Lords make a valuable contribution to improving the quality of legislation in parliament. 50 – 60% of the chambers time is devoted to the revision of Commons bills. During the 2007/08 parliamentary session, the Lords tabled 7,259 amendments to draft bills of which 2,625 were accepted by the Commons. These included the Counter Terrorism Bill which outlined plans to revise the period of time potential terrorism suspects could be detained in custody without charge. The proposal was rejected by a majority of 192.

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The Lords have the capacity to dedicate time to in-depth scrutiny of proposed bills. This allows the Commons to take a back seat role and concentrate their efforts on MP constituency responsibilities and other issues. Consequently, many of the most thorough and full proof amendments find their origins in the House of Lords. In fact, it has been argued that the Commons abuse the Lords time and expertise in order to rework incompetently contrived bills.
The Lords posses equal powers on matters concerning Private Members Bills. In plain terms, like the Commons, they too can reject them outright. In 2005, Lord Joffe proposed a bill that legalised assisted suicide in the case of terminally ill individuals. This involved doctors having the discretion to prescribe patients with a fatal dose of medication. However, the bill was fervently opposed on moral grounds and subsequently overcome.
Like their counterpart, the Lord’s is also safe guarded by parliamentary privilege. This means that the chamber is exempt from libel allegations and therefore permits peers the liberty of free speech within parliament.
Legislative procedures aside, the House of Lords plays an important role in scrutinising the actions of parliament. This scrutiny takes the form of questions to ministers, debates in parliament and committee work.
There is no Lords equivalent to Commons Questions Time. In its place, time is allocated at the start of each day’s session for questions to the Lord’s ministers. During the 2007/08 parliamentary session, 595 oral questions were put forth whilst 5,814 oral written questions were lodged.
Debates in the chamber are reflective of the diverse membership of the house. Generally, they are said to be more civil than those that take place in the Commons. Furthermore, although still evident, party allegiance does not carry the same weight. The content of the issues discussed are said to be far more deliberated and comprehensive than those in the Commons. This can be explained by the caliber of representative the Lords can boast. The 2007/08 parliamentary session featured 80 general debates ranging from disputes about the state of the armed forces to the current economic situation in the UK.
The House of Lords exhibits a number of committee’s globally acclaimed for their expertise. The coveted European Communities Committee is held in high regard and compliments the less detailed studies conducted by their Commons counterpart. The Science & Technology Committee, founded in 1979, was responsible for a damning report in 2007 on e-crime. The review examined the role the internet has played in increasing crime levels, highlighting the dangers of online depravity and advised the government of the preventative measures that needed to be put in place. In 2005, the Lords Constitution Committee produced a report on the potential introduction of ID cards and concluded that it threatened to destroy the harmony between the state and citizen.
As of October 2009, the judicial powers of the House of Lords were removed when the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 was brought into practice. Prior to this, the chamber was considered the highest court in the United Kingdom and was traditionally the court of appeal for all civil and criminal cases. Justice was administered via the Law Lords – the countries most higher-ranking judges. However, with the creation of a new United Kingdom Supreme Court, the judicial role of the Lords was effectively rendered void.
Composition of House of Lords
In 1997, Tony Blair’s Labour government came to power and immediately pledged to make the House of Lords more democratic and representative of the electorate. Up until this point, the chamber had comprised of life peers who had been honoured with their seat due to outstanding achievements in their field of work and the traditional hereditary peers who ascended to their position through birth.
Due to the massive prevalence of Conservative supporters amongst hereditary peers prior to 1999, there existed an ingrown Conservative majority within the second Chamber of parliament.
The House of Lords Act 1999 sought to fulfil the Labour party’s 1997 manifesto commitment to remove the right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords. The Act served to remove more than 600 hereditary peers from membership. Consequently, this created greater equality between the Conservatives and Labour, leaving the balance of power being held by the cross-benchers and the Liberal Democrats. There was no longer a single party who dominated the House.
This change in composition is reflected when comparing House of Lords Membership in January 1999 to that of November 2009. In January 1999, prior to the Act’s ratification, the Conservatives had 473 peers sitting in the second chamber. As of November 2009, there were only 190 active Conservative peers. In stark contrast, in January 1999, Labour had 168 peers within the House. This figure had risen to 212 by November 2009 and therefore emphasises the close parity now in operation between Labour and Tory peers. The number of Liberal Democrat peers has remained consistent. In 1999, the party had 67 peers. This figure had increased marginally to 71 by 2009. The removal of hereditary peers also resulted in a significant drop in cross-bench peers. In 1999, there were 310 working in the House. By 2009, this number had reduced to 183.
The composition of the chamber has also been altered by the increasing numbers of life peers derived from common social standing. Whilst hereditary peers are traditionally bourn of upper class backgrounds, life peers offer a more socially representative alternative. However, it must be noted that despite this discrepancy, class issues still remain. In order to offer a life peerage, recipients will generally have achieved something of particular repute. Therefore, by the time peerage is granted, it is highly unlikely that the individual will be still considered of lower social standing. In turn, this severely hampers the chances of the chamber ever becoming a socially representative mechanism of the United Kingdom.
The terms of the House of Lords Act 1999 has also increased the role played by woman within the House of Lords. In 1990, 80 women held peerage within the House. By November 2009, as a result of the changing composition, there were 148 women sitting with the Lords. This shows an increase from 7% of the total membership to 20 % of the total membership in just under two decades.
The present day House of Lords is evidently different from that one that existed before Labour came to power in 1997. Its composition has been transformed in comparison with the Conservative stronghold that was in place pre reform and it now promotes a far more equal representation of political allegiance, gender and social status. More significantly, the vast majority of members are life peers and not hereditary peers.
The Reforms Agenda
Stage two of the Labour Governments plans to reform the House of Lords involved the consolidation of Stage One – the removal of hereditary peers. It was designed to bolster and strengthen the move to a second chamber based purely on appointment. The idea was that the reforms would create a more representative chamber based on the votes a political party had acquired at the previous general election.
Stage three of the reforms agenda outlined proposals for an expansive reform of the House of Lords. In theory, the government had anticipated that the successful implementation of an all-appointed second chamber would allow for more fundamental reforms to be made in order to stabilise the Lords position in Parliament. Secondly, the government planned to introduce a wider programme of constitutional change within the House. This hinged entirely on the success of the stage two reforms in ensuring the House of Lords maintained its legitimacy.
Jack Straw, the secretary of state for justice, recently claimed that the reforms of 1999 dramatically changed the House of Lords for the better. However, many would argue this is not the case. Ultimately, the Labour government has failed to deliver on its promise of a wholly elected second chamber.
In 2007 the House of Commons voted in favour of reforms leading to a 100% or 80% elected second chamber. This proposal was rejected outright by the House of Lords. Despite the governments insistence that the reforms would be pushed through using the will of the Commons, two years have since passed and the in-house squabbling still rages between those in power. This is the frank nature of the reforms debate.
An unelected second chamber with no direct link to the people raises serious questions of legitimacy. The body itself is fundamental to the making of legislation. The Labour Party has been in power for close to 13 years and it has achieved very little. The successful implementation of Stage one of the Lords reform programme now appear as substantial as a gentle breeze. Despite overwhelming public favour for reform of the Lords and numerous votes for a fully elected chamber, Labour has not pushed through the reform agenda its 1997 manifesto guaranteed.
Unfortunately, the governments plans have not came to fruition.. It looks likely that it will remain that way for the foreseeable future.
Sources
Jones, B. Kavanagh, D. Moran, M. and Norton, P. (2007), Politics UK, 6th Edition
Norton, P. (2005), Parliament in British Politics
Russell, M. (2000), Reforming the House of Lords: Lessons from Overseas
Direct Gov Website: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/index.htm
The Works of the House of Lords: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/HoLwork.pdf
UK Parliament Website: http://www.parliament.uk/index.cfm
Appendix
Questions to MP regarding House of Lord Reforms:
1. Please can you explain the term the “Poodle of the Prime Minister” and its relation to Stage One of the House of Lords reform agenda?
2. Why the change of heart regarding your stance on reform?
3. Where do the Government’s major failings lie in terms of not delivering on its 1997 manifesto promise to reform the House of Lords?
4. Do you agree that an elected second chamber is an essential link to the people and not having one raises questions of legitimacy?
5. There are those who argue that the restraining influence of the Lords is crucial to the efficiency of the UK Parliamentary system. Why do we need an elected second chamber?
Follow up;
1. Philip Norton – Lord Norton of Louth – Conservative peer and professor of government at the University of Hull. From 2001 to 2004 he was Chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution. He has been described in The House Magazine – the journal of both Houses of Parliament – as ‘our greatest living expert on Parliament’. Mr Norton is extremely knowledgeable on the government’s reform agenda and has written acclaimed publications on the matter. Serving as peer within the Lords, he would be able to give a view from the parapets.
2. Gerald Warner – Scottish newspaper columnist and political commentator. He is a former policy advisor to the British Cabinet Minister. His daily blog for the Daily Telegraph attracts widespread debate and he regularly writes of the need for reform within the House of Lords. Mr Warner would be a useful port of contact as he has been immersed in the politics for a number of years and through his daily blog activity would be able to transmit an accurate portrayal of British consensus on Lords reform agenda.
3. Lord Hope – Scottish Judge and Deputy Head of the Supreme Court of the UK. Lord Hope is a prestigious Law Lord and has served in the House of Lords in numerous important roles. It would be beneficial to gauge his reaction to the devolved judicial powers of the House of Lords now that the New Supreme Court is in operation.
4. Jonathan Freedland – British Journalist who writes a weekly column for the Guardian. Recently expressed his views on the need for an elected second Chamber of Parliament. Therefore, the issue is of great interest to him and he will be knowledgeable on the subject matter. Also, he’s a young journalist who might be able to give a fresh perspective on the House of Lords.
 

Application of Auction Theory Principles on the Sale of a House

This essay will discuss the application of auction theory principles on the sale of a house. The essay will show the advantages and the apparent limitations of different auction theories. The essay will then conclude to which auction system should be used for the sale of the house. The auction theory models will be critically assessed and analysed to see whether they affect the sale value of the house in an auction.

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In economics, auction theory deals with the operations of auction markets including the researching of properties found or available in the auction markets (Mughal, 2011). An auction as a design of sales is composed of a variety of set of rules and designs. Auction theorists focus on things such as the efficiency of a given auction design, revenue comparison, as well as the optimal and equilibrium bidding strategies. The design of real-world auctions is actually informed by the use of auction theory. Traditionally, the allocation of a single item utilizes four types of auctions. These auctions include the English auctions (Open ascending-bid auctions), Dutch auctions (Open descending-bid auctions), Vickrey auctions (Second-price sealed-bid auctions), and the First-price sealed-bid auctions (Nakajima, 2011). These auction theory principles can be applied to the design of sales for any given type of merchandise. In the market, the auction has become one of the most appropriate tools for disposing of merchandise to the prospective buyers hence the development of the auction theory principles. Houses form one of the goods that can be transacted by a way of auction considering their value in the market. The different types of houses that befit auction as a transaction mode include public houses that require privatization as well as houses owned by mortgage defaulters, among other examples. The paper discusses the application of auction theory principles to the design of sales for houses.

English Auctions (Open Ascending-Bid Auctions)

This type of auction is considered an open-outcry ascending dynamic auction (Stevenson and Young, 2015). It is executed in a series of steps. To open the auction to the prospective customers, the auctioneer announces a suggested opening bid, which serves as the reserve or the starting price for the goods on sale. Once the auctioneer suggests the opening price, the floor reciprocates by announcing their preferred prices for the merchandise in an increasing manner (Stevenson and Young, 2015). The increased fashion of the customers preferred prices is attributed to the fact that they are in a competition to win the bid and the highest bidder normally wins the bid. At any given moment in the auctioning process, the standing bid is considered to be owned by the person with the highest bid at that specific point in time. The standing bid then keeps on changing upon the displacement of the current standing bid by a higher bid from a competing buyer. Each standing bid is given a certain period within which the bid can be challenged by another competing buyer. If the allocated time frame for the standing bid during the auction process elapses without being challenged, then the standing bid becomes the winner of the auction and the merchandise is given to the owner of the standing bid at a price equal to his or her bid. The fact that the identity of all bidders is not anonymous, English auctions are considered to be “open” or fully transparent (Stevenson and Young, 2015).

English auctions can be applied to the design of sales for houses. Some of the houses categories that befit the English auctions principle of auction theory include the confiscated houses meant to recover financial dues owed to a given party by another party. Nonetheless, the auctioning party should seek authorization to do so from the relevant authorities to avoid the infringement of the rights of the other party (Jehiel, 2011). In this case, the opening price by the auctioneer should be carefully determined by professional property value assessors to ensure that there is no chance of selling the house under auction at a price that is way below its actual value and one that would not enable the auctioning party to recover its monetary value. In English auctions, the value of any bid above the reserve price is not limited hence there is no revenue equivalence. Due to asymmetric information, the winner’s curse may result when the quality of the merchandise is lower than expected. The end price is therefore higher in relation to value.

Dutch Auctions (Open Descending-Bid Auctions)

Unlike the English auctions, Dutch auctions begin with a high opening bid and then the auctioneer systematically lowers the bid price until a prospective buyer agrees to a certain price lower than that of the opening bid. However, there is a predetermined reserve price for the merchandise under auction, one which the auctioneer cannot lower the bid price below it (Pradhan, 2010). Due to its bidding approach, Dutch auctions principle of auction theory is also referred to as open-outcry descending-price auction. This type of auction is most suited for merchandise that requires urgent disposal since it technically requires only one bid for the sale to take place (Pradhan, 2010). In comparison to the English auctions, Dutch auctions tend to limit the amount of money that the auctioning money can sale the merchandise under auction to a prospective buyer. In English auctions, the competing buyers continue placing higher bids in an increasing fashion hence increasing the chance of selling the item under auction at an incredibly higher price. Therefore, Dutch auctions tend to limit the amount of money that can result from the auction of any given property. This aspect also gives prospective buyers to own the merchandise under auction without being outcompeted by other buyers since the first buyer who places any bid that is below the opening price but higher than the reserve price wins the bid.

Applying the Dutch auctions principle of auction theory to the design of sales of houses, government houses or houses from any other organization or party not interested in making a profit are most suited. According to Katok and Roth (2014), it would be wise for any given party to apply Dutch auctions over English auctions in disposing of a property if no profits are expected to be made from the property’s auction since the former saves on time as opposed to the later. In many cases, governments operate as a not-for-profit organization hence necessitating the use of the Dutch auctions in the event government houses are to be auctioned to the public or being privatized. This aspect would give the prospective buyers a chance to obtain such houses from the government at reasonable prices, which are not exploitative in nature. There is revenue equivalence in Dutch auctions since the highest price payable in the auction is limited. The owner has more knowledge about the houses hence there is information asymmetry. The winner’s curse in this case results when the value is lower than expected hence inflating the end price.

Vickrey Auctions (Second-Price Sealed-Bid Auctions)

This auction theory principle is a type of a sealed-bid auction (Mishra and Parkes, 2015). In Vickrey auctions, the bid of every prospective buyer for the merchandise under auction is anonymous to another bidder since the bids are submitted a written form which is considered to be a confidential form. Unlike the other types of auctions, the highest bidder in Vickrey auctions wins the bid but the merchandise is sold to him or her at a price equivalent to the bid price of the second-highest bid (Mishra and Parkes, 2015). The fact that Vickrey auctions give the bidders an incentive to bid their true value is strategically related to the English auctions principle of auction theory. Vickrey auctions give the bidders an opportunity to arrive at their own private values for the merchandise under auction thereby maximizing their expected utility. This aspect thereby reveals the genuine valuation of different prospective buyers to the item under auction. Since Vickrey auctions are decision efficient, it gives a model considered to be the baseline for posting the efficiency properties of other types of auctions. Nonetheless, when the buyers or the bidders are not certain about their own valuations, Vickrey auctions has the weakness of not allowing for price discovery. Since the bidding process is confidential, Vickrey auctions can suffer from bidder collusion where the bidders can lower their valuations while reserving their favourite bidder to win the auction (Mishra and Parkes, 2015).

In designing the sales for houses, Vickrey auctions can be applied to houses that are brand new to the market and whose price valuation has not been done. According to Kagel and Levin (2014), confidential valuation of any given property gives a person the opportunity to maximize his or her expected utility for the property hence helping in the projection of the suitable price for that property in the market. Based on this aspect, Vickrey auctions can be used to help in determining the actual valuation of houses in any given market by allowing the bidders to maximize on their expected utility hence providing their genuine valuation for the houses under auction. Vickrey auctions can, therefore, be used to establish the pricing for houses in any given market without considering the instances where the auction principle succumbs to bidder collusion hence leading to the undervaluation of the houses under auction. The price payable is equivalent to the value of the second-highest bid hence the revenue equivalence theory applies. Information asymmetry results due to the owner’s knowledge of the merchandise than the bidders. In this case, there is no winner’s curse since the price paid is lower than the highest bid price hence the end price is not inflated in comparison to value.

First-Price Sealed-Bid Auctions

This auction theory principle is closely associated to the Vickrey auctions except that the highest bidder wins the bid but in this case, he or she pays the amount of the highest bid rather than that for the second-highest bid (Katok, 2004). Just like in the Vickrey auctions bids placed in first-price, sealed-bid auctions are considered to be blind and hence confidential. This aspect is because the bidders place their bids in a sealed envelope and submit them to the auctioneer simultaneously at the same time. There is no opportunity for any bidder to know the amount the other bidder is bidding for the merchandise under auction until all the bids are made public by the auctioneer. At this point in time, the auctioneer then determines the highest bid and declares the owner of the bid as the winner.

Applying the first-price sealed-bid auctions to the design of sales of houses would require the predetermination of the reserve price of the houses under auction. This aspect is so because without regulating the minimum value acceptable for the houses under auction would lead to the undervaluation of the houses during the sale. According to Chow and Ooi (2013), auctioneers should observe maximum caution while applying any type of auction theory principle to avoid selling the product under auction at a price that is below the reserve price. In this circumstance, the theory of revenue equivalence does not apply since the bids are confidential. In addition, the owner has more information regarding the houses hence there is information asymmetry (only they know how much they value the merchandise). Winner’s curse may result if the value of the houses is lower than the bidders expect hence giving mistaken valuation. This aspect affects the end price by paying too much money for relatively low quality houses making the buyer loose out.

Conclusion

Due to different nature of different goods, different auctions designs have been developed depending on the efficiency of a given auction design to a specific type of merchandise, revenue comparison, as well as the optimal and equilibrium bidding strategies. The design of sales of houses, the English auction recognizes the highest bidder and without any limitation to the highest amount, that one can bid hence the principle is suitable for making profits. The Dutch auctions put a limitation to the highest payable amount possible hence; it is suitable when necessary for disposing of houses for urgency needs. Vickrey auctions employ a confidential bidding process, which allows for the genuine valuation of the houses under auction by the prospective buyers.

Word Count 2046

References

Brad Ideas. (2017). Why aren’t homes sold in second price auctions?. [Online] Available at: https://ideas.4brad.com/why-arent-homes-sold-second-price-auctions [Accessed 19 Nov. 2018].

Chow, Y. and Ooi, J., 2013. First-price sealed-bid tender versus English open auction: evidence from land auctions. Real Estate Economics, 42(2), pp. 253-278.

Jehiel, P., 2011. Manipulative auction design. Theoretical Economics, 6(2), pp. 185-217.

Kagel, J. and Levin, D., 2014. Behaviour in multi-unit demand auctions: experiments with uniform price and dynamic Vickrey auctions. Econometrica, 69(2), pp. 413-454.

Katok, E. and Roth, A., 2014. Auctions of homogeneous goods with increasing returns: experimental comparison of alternative “Dutch” auctions. Management Science, 50(8), pp. 144-163.

Katok, E., 2004. Regret, learning and risk aversion in first price sealed bid auctions. SSRN Electronic Journal, pp. 21-76.

Klemperer, P. (1999). Auction Theory: A Guide to the Literature. Journal of Economic Surveys, [online] 13(3), pp.227-286. Available at: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8625/201f7e22c35e89cd54b567251bfcda6d3ffe.pdf [Accessed 19 Nov. 2018].

Klemperer, P. (1999). Auction Theory: A Guide to the Literature. Journal of Economic Surveys, [online] 13(3), pp.227-286. Available at: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8625/201f7e22c35e89cd54b567251bfcda6d3ffe.pdf [Accessed 19 Nov. 2018].

Mishra, D. and Parkes, D., 2015. Ascending price Vickrey auctions for general valuations. SSRN Electronic Journal, pp. 12-67.

Mughal, M., 2011. Auction: theory and practice. SSRN Electronic Journal, pp. 3-9.

Nakajima, D., 2011. First-price auctions, Dutch auctions, and buy-it-now prices with Allais paradox bidders. Theoretical Economics, 6(3), pp. 473-498.

Pradhan, M., 2010. The declining price anomaly in Dutch rose auctions. American Economic Review, 91(4), pp. 155-162.

Stevenson, S. and Young, J., 2015. The role of undisclosed reserves in English open outcry auctions. Real Estate Economics, 43(2), pp. 375-402.

 

A Thousand Splendid Suns and A Doll’s House

Compare and Contrast the ways in which Khaled Hosseini and Henrik Ibsen represent females in ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ (2007) and ‘A Doll’s House’ (1879).
Examine the view that in both texts ‘women’s voices are silenced and suppressed’.
In the novel ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini and the play ‘A Doll’s House’ by Henrik Ibsen, It could be argued the representation of women is a recurring theme that is presented in patriarchal societies in the two texts. Arguably, women in both texts face obstacles that disempower and silence them due to men’s treatment of women, the societal view of women, and the oppression and objectification of women. I believe women’s ability to overcome this disempowerment is particularly challenging due to being oppressed by men. ‘A thousand splendid suns’ is a post-modern text set from the early 1960s to the early 2000’s suns represent women in Afghanistan In the 1960s when some of the biggest strides were made towards a more liberal and westernized lifestyle whilst still trying to maintain a respect for more conservative factions. ‘A Doll’s House’ on the other hand, was set in the 1870s, in the Victorian era, where the distinctions between men and women and their gender roles became more sharply evident than ever before.

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Ibsen presents the women in ‘A Doll’s House’ as silenced and suppressed through the male treatment of women. It can be argued that Torvald’s treatment of Nora depicts this view through Torvald’s constantly patronizing his wife Nora with seemingly innocuous comments and metaphors such as “my little squirrel” which is objectifying her to a point where he suppresses her as he doesn’t even regard her as a human which therefore silences Nora by making her feel inferior to him by not even regarding her as a human. By using the possessive pronoun ‘my’ Ibsen highlights the idea that Torvald feels as though he owns Nora which further depicts the objectification of Nora in this case.   Perhaps this is deliberately done by Ibsen as his beliefs on how a relationship should be like, that rather than two people dwelling together in a Victorian patriarchal society they should live as equals, “free to become their own human beings” and consequently, Ibsen’s critics attacked him for failing to respect the institution of marriage. Therefore, this could link closely with Nora and Torvald’s lack of respect for her and through her character, present the idea of women tolerating inhumane behaviour that is ratified on them by men. Like Ibsen’s private life, his writing tended to raise up sensitive social issues, and some parts of the Norwegian society also frowned upon his work. ,therefore, this could have been a deliberate move by Ibsen to highlight the suppression between Torvald and Nora to highlight the realities of what women face to make them more aware and push people away from the ideas of suppressing and objectifying their wives and therefore silencing them and pushing for more equal relationships between husband and wives. This could link closely to Nora’s empowering actions at the end of the play when she left Torvald and defies all expectations of her as a wife and therefore is not silenced and suppressed by the end of the play. Furthermore, Krogstad’s manipulation and control over Nora further reinforces the silencing of women through the male treatment of women with the blackmail ‘But I tell you this. If I get thrown into the gutter for a second time, I shall take you with me.” This controlling and blackmailing behaviour has silenced Nora’s voice to a point where she feels threatened and bullied by Krogstad for her secret being revealed throughout the whole play. However, Nora finally overcoming the disempowerment and silencing of these controlling and manipulative men at the end of the play, when she leaves and defies not just Torvald’s expectations of her but society’s expectations of her as a woman to subdue and fulfil ‘her duties’ as a wife, not solely does this empower Nora but also the women audience in the Victorian Era who, like Nora, may have experienced suppression and silencing through men. Ibsen depicts the empowerment of all women at the time as Nora represents the struggles of women in the Victorian Era and so her being able to overcome the male treatment of women by leaving Torvald highlights Nora’s strength and power.
Similarly, in the novel ‘A thousand splendid suns’ Khaled Hosseini portrays the female characters in the play being silenced and suppressed through the treatment of women through Rasheed’s manipulative and controlling behaviour on Mariam shown through the long list “It wasn’t easy tolerating him talking this way to her, to bear his scorn, his ridicule, his insults, his walking past her like she was nothing but a house cat. But after four years of marriage, Mariam saw clearly how much a woman could and tolerate when she was afraid”. The long list shows an aspect of female suffering in the novel which emphasizes what many females in the Afghan society had to go through in the 1960s due to the way that men treated them and they were forced to just accept it and were silenced as they felt as though they had no other choice and were just destined to go through the vicious cycle of the mistreatment of women. Hosseini does this deliberately to make the reader understand and sympathize with the female characters in the play by depicting them as oppressed and helpless characters through the expectations that are put on them. This is further emphasized through Nana’s words ‘Learn this now and learn this well, my daughter: like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman’, these words become a refrain for Mariam as she gets older due to the experiences she undergoes especially with Jalil and Rasheed who always seemed to accuse Mariam of everything. This reflects the view of men in the 1950’s in Afghanistan, that women were in the wrong and always seemed to accuse them no matter what shown through many male characters such as Jalil who shifts the burden of Mariam onto Nana and Rasheed who blames Mariam for everything that goes wrong in his life and just like the female characters in the novel, Mariam, Nana and Laila who all portrayed a struggle to overcome this. Alternatively, it could be argued that due to Jalil leaving Nana leading to Nana raising Mariam all on her own, did not silence and suppress her and nor was she disempowered, but as a single woman, which was a shocking thing at the time, raised Mariam on her own which is deliberately depicted by Hosseini as it is empowering women by showing her strength and determination.
The societal view of women plays an immense role in the play ‘A Dolls House’ as in the Victorian period men and women’s roles became more sharply defined than at any time in history and this played a huge impact on the way that society viewed women, as they were only expected to fulfil their gender roles which consisted of domestic duties while the men at the time commuted to their place of work in for example the factory, shop or office and were the breadwinners. This is reinforced by the title of the play itself ‘A Doll’s House’ which is an extended metaphor presents this idea as Nora is confined in this ‘House’ which would reflect the societal view of women and their roles at the time as Torvald expects her to be perfect and Nora is once again objectified as a ‘doll ’in societies eyes. This is reinforced when Nora is leaving and Torvald tries to persuade Nora stay in order to fulfil her ‘sacred duties’ to her husband and her children as if that is the only thing she is valued for in the house her ‘duties’ as all women were in the Victorian era when their husband’s went to work and they were expected to fulfil their “duties” as wife’s by completing their domestic duties. Moreover, the fact that Nora is referred to as a ‘doll’ is a deliberate move by Ibsen to reflect the societal view of women as objectifying them by referring to her as a ‘doll’ as she is just expected to do her domestic chores and can reflect the idea of women in society seen as something that men and society can just play around with and use just like a doll. Furthermore, the character of Mrs. Linde reinforces the idea of the societal view of women silencing and disempowering women to a point where they are suppressed when she is forced to marry a man due to her financial circumstances, despite loving another man (Krogstad) leading to her having a loveless marriage which is representing of the women in society at the time who were expected to make sacrifices in their happiness and to play the submissive role in society which forced her into believing that she ‘did not have the right’ to refuse her husband’s marriage proposal. Yet, could also be that Ibsen presents society and it’s view of women as women having a voice and are not silenced shown through Nora having so much dialogue in the play this is presented through Ibsen view when Ibsen stated in his notes for the Modern Tragedy that ‘a woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with a judicial system that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of view’. This view shows the characters in the play are therefore presenting the patriarchal society at the time where women, even in the law were seen as inferior to men just like Nora which makes it difficult for women to overcome this. Despite this, Nora having the main lead role in the play and having so much dialogue reinforces her importance and Ibsen gives Nora a voice by doing this and helps draw attention to her struggles and the many other women in the Victorian society with similar struggles. Futhermore, the fact that the play ended in Nora being able to overcome this by leaving Torvald despite him begging her to stay with his ‘face in his hand’ and calls out ‘Nora! NORA!’ empowers women even more as despite being oppressed by the whole of society Nora broke through the stereotypes and the gender roles and overcame the disempowerment. Therefore I agree Ibsen empowered women through the character of Nora and depicts the views of the suffragette Louie Bennett who declared that ‘more than any other modern writer (Ibsen) has proved himself a prophet and apostle of women, no other ….. has shown more sympathetic comprehension and its latent powers’.
Similarly, in ‘A thousand splendid suns’ the societal views of women also become an obstacle that disempowers and silences women and plays a significant part in the novel. Nana perceived herself as a source of shame and disgrace after being abandoned by her fiancé, disowned by her father and propelled away after her affair with Jalil who blamed it entirely on Nana and continued living his life normally and leaving Nana to deal with the aftermath of the shame and abuse from society. She was obliged to take all the responsibility alone while Jalil freed himself by telling his wife that is was her fault as Nana tells Mariam, “You know what he told his wives by way of defence? That I forced myself on him. That it was my fault. Didi? You see? This is what it means to be a woman in this world.” This shows that society just expects women to take the blame and it is worse if a woman breaks the norms of society rather than a man and Nana is disempowered as men always have the upper hand in this patriarchal society. This also reflects the same themes that were portrayed in Ibsen’s A Dolls House and therefore shows this disempowerment of women in society has not changed over time from the Victorian era and even to the postmodern era and women are still by society viewed as being less than men and therefore are always put to blame and is easy to point fingers at them to shift blame. Moreover, the societal view of women is presented through a key character, Rasheed. Rasheed is considered an antagonist however it could be argued if he really is at fault or is he just representing the views of the society that they lived in, in Afghanistan. The culture and society led to women being confined and constricted as they would be beaten shown through the alliteration in ‘if they laughed too loudly’ and therefore led to Rasheed being the way he was to Mariam and Laila because he was only reflective of society and its views and is relatable to the Afghani readers at the time who experienced these same views and confinement from society in the 1960s. The key character of Nana further depicts the societal view and expectations of women“It’s our lot in life, Mariam. Women like us. We endure. It’s all we have. Do you understand?’’. The silencing of women through the societal view of women is shown through the short sentences‘ it’s all we have’ and ‘We endure’ which shows it silences women in the sense that they feel helpless. This shows that Nana knows what society expects of her and also understands that they are expected to be silent and ‘endure’ and she understands in the society in the society in the 1960’s women’s were voiceless and also understand that they have no other choice.
In both the texts oppression and objectification was a major theme presented throughout. A Doll’s House presents the objectification and oppression of women through the sexualizing of Nora when he dressed Nora in a costume of his choosing and coaches her to dance the tarantula in the manner that he finds “desirable” and therefore she is over sexualised. These actions of Ibsen portraying Torvald over-sexualizing Nora links in closely with Gubar and his views that if everything is written by men, then men only write what they want us to see, therefore by Ibsen writing this it is clear to see that this is done deliberately by Ibsen to create an image of women that men at the time would expect and want to see, which is a woman being objectified and being over-sexualized and therefore Ibsen just conforms to societies view of women by creating this image of Nora. This links in closely with the play being written in a third-person perspective which is also is alluded to as the ‘camera lens’ which can portray the idea of the male gaze. The Male Gaze represents women as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male viewer and in this case, Nora was over-sexualized and objectified entirely for the pleasure of Torvald and the male audience. This explains why Ibsen ‘stated that it is not about women’s rights as such: rather, the drama is about Human rights. In a speech at the festival of the Norwegian Women’s Rights League in 1898, he asserted firmly that he was not a member of the league and had no conscious aim of creating propaganda when he wrote A Doll’s House:  I am not even quite clear as to just what this women’s rights movement is. To me it has seemed a problem of humanity in general.’ And therefore did not even intend for it to be seen as empowering for women as it was.
Arguably, A thousand splendid suns portrays the objectification of women through the symbolism of the Burqa which potrays the silencing  and suppression of female physically. Mariam feels them literally as the ‘cloth kept pressing against her mouth’, silencing her and making it difficult for her to breathe therefore Mariam feels oppressed not only because she is physically silenced but also due to the fact she is forced to conform to society’s expectations of a woman concealing herself and not being able to express their views and voice opinions openly. The symbolism of the Burqa is significant as in the 1960s the Burqa became optional for a while, regardless of this many women still didn’t have the option whether they wanted to wear the burqa or not, such as Mariam, due to society and men still oppressing women to wear it like Rasheed who had a rather strong view on the burqa and women who didn’t wear it. However, it could also be argued that the burqa was like a safe haven to Mariam from society, “Still, she found some comfort in the anonymity that the burqa provided. She wouldn’t be recognized this way if she ran into an old acquaintance of hers. She wouldn’t have to watch the surprise in their eyes, or the pity or glee, at how far she had fallen, at how her lofty aspirations had been dashed.” This long list, therefore, depicts the idea that in the end, the burqa is not an oppression on females that silences them, in fact, it empowers them by listing many ways in which women can be themselves without any judgment and be free in their own space.
In conclusion, both texts A Thousand Splendid Suns and A Doll’s House portray the silencing and suppression of women throughout the many different ways, of the male treatment of women, the views of society and the oppression and objectification of women, however, in the end, it is all empowering for women as this mistreatment and inequality is highlighted to make people more aware of female treatment in the Victorian era and even the postmodern era to push people away from it. Moreover, both texts end in an empowering way, in A Doll’s House Nora takes a stand and leaves her husband and in A Thousand Splendid Suns with the fact that it could be viewed as a male bildungsroman showing the growth of these two girls, Mariam and Laila, into marriage and maternity illustrates the travail of Afghani women and Mariam and Laila’s familial love triumphs and Mariam’s love lives on even after her death.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND REFERENCES
D) PRIMARY TEXTS

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, 1960
A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, 1879 

E) SECONDARY SOURCES: BOOKS AND ARTICLES

Stephanie Forward, ‘A new world for women?’ in English review, 19.4 April 2009, p24
‘The Archetypal image of women in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and pinters the homecoming’ – Zainab Abdulaziz Al Suhaibani
A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood

REFERENCES

https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/3ae6a99513.pdf
Stephanie Forward ‘A New world for women’ p25
Stephanie Forward ‘A New world for women’ p25
Stephanie Forward ‘A New world for women’ p25
http://hozir.org/a-thousand-splendid-suns-the-burqa-as-a-symbol-of-both-the-soc.html-

 

Jørn Utzon’s House in Hellebæk

The “Architect’s house” in Hellebæk, Denmark, fifty kilometres north of Copenhagen, was built in 1953 on the designs of the great architect, Jørn Utzon, aimed to be his own home in one of his most loved areas of his country. Small, yet spacious, this dwelling is hidden in the green Danish forests not far away from the place he grew up and loved so much. This house was built at the commencement of Utzon’s career with limited funds:
The story goes that Utzon… could only afford a regular suburban lot but bought one at the end of a street, cancelled the driveway and persuaded the local forester to let him enter trough the forest instead. (Anon., May 2008)
In this essay I intend to look at how this house functions, both aesthetically as well as ergonomically. I will analyze its style, layout and both its external and internal structure with references to the time and location it was built in. I will also examine the practical functions it provides. Subsequently, I am going to compare it to two other houses which either have been an inspiration for the architect or have been themselves influenced by Utzon’s Hellebæk house.

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The House at Hellebæk is not just another paradigm of a typical modern mid-century house but one of the very first structures to feature the trend of single-storey, flat-roofed residences with long glass walls. The whole façade of the house is made up of yellow brick and large glass panels which create long uninterrupted, parallel walls. The north brick wall is completely blank in the sense that the architect punctured no windows in it at all except for the front door. As for the interior, the kitchen and the living room are situated in the core of the house while the bedrooms are at the sides and are only illuminated by roof openings due to Utzon’s desire to keep the bareness of the north wall. His determination to avoiding openings lead that the internal walls have no doors but mere gaps between them as passageways, and he achieved that by arranging them in such a way that the doors were ceiling high.
The walls extend from ceiling to floor with black-painted wooden strips so the walls can be moved, the rooms re-arranged according to the need later on. (Jorn Utzon)
By designing this house, the architect’s aim, was to make a modern and attractive residence that accommodated his wants and needs. At that time, he was married with children and needed a family house that would please him both aesthetically and emotionally by allowing him to enjoy the beauty of the Danish woods on his slightly elevated porch. On the other hand, he needed it to have enough room for a family while keeping the construction on a low budget.
What is interesting about this residence is the fact that if you inspect it from the south, you will see a lightweight structure with thin timber framing and glass plates. On the other hand, if you stand on the north side, you will observe a heavy, stone building with no openings for the building to breathe. The south lighter side which stands on a solid brick wall, is said to be inspired by eastern, Chinese architecture. (20th century houses)
With the construction of this house, Jørn Utzon was the first to bring the open-plan movement to the then conservative Denmark as it features a large open space and minimizes the use of small, enclosed rooms. This is in strong contrast with the traditional Danish houses with strictly defined rooms (Denmark, Unofficial Handbook, Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 622-644). This house is yet an even more contradictory structure to that area due to the architect’s choice not to provide north-facing openings since the conventional housing of the 50s used to have large windows on every side. Yet, the south side and the use of brick balance everything up.
One of the things that catches my eye on this house is the precise geometry in which the yellow bricks are placed. The entire building seems like it has been very carefully constructed, taking into consideration every little detail. The geometry is emphasised by the two very long parallel walls on either side.
The structure of the house, resembles that of a traditional Japanese house that was designed according to the ancient Kiwari modular system. This was a very simple method of building based on standard dimensions and spacing between columns which was measured in 6 to 6.5 Shaku (1818mm to 1969.5mm)(Davies book 2). Utzon borrows this scheme and converts it into his own culture, the traditional Danish brick. “In the Utzon house it is the humble brick that sets the module both externally and internally.”(Davies). All the proportions are planned on an 120mm grid which is devised by Danish brick and cement joints, timber panels, floor tiles and brick paving.
The Japanese influence is not only apparent in the structural elements of the house but in the interiors and decoration as well. The materials used outside are the same as inside: yellow brick, Oregon pine, aluminium and black-painted skirting boards and ceiling strips. The whole plainness of it all is what reminds me of Japanese quality. Photos of the interiors which are geometric, with straight edges, a grid-like placement of furniture, ample wide, open space and a very generous usage of long timber planks bring to my mind the simple lines that traditional Japanese architecture followed. The architect himself recalls all the different sorts of materials used in this project; walls and doors are framed with Oregon pine boards, the kitchen, grill niche, shower and bathroom are all adorned with the same yellow brick but glazed white and shiny like porcelain. The flooring in the entrance hall, kitchen and round the fireplace consists of yellow-brown oblong tiles made of clay.
Utzon’s main inspiration for creating the Hellebæk house, were Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian houses (1936) and especially Jacobs House which was the first out of this series of small ranches in West America. The windows, the single-storey and open plan structure as well as the flat roof and the use of brick and timber were obvious elements which Utzon mimicked after Wright’s work.
After the Second World War, Utzon decided to travel to the United States where he stayed with Frank Lloyd Wright for several months. He closely observed the great architect who was at the peak of his career as he worked. This is very noticeable in Utzon’s work following that journey.
Jacobs House is located in Madison, Wisconsin and was created by Wright during a major pause of his career in the 30s due to being affected by the time’s depression. The architect’s main intention was to create a large collection of such houses that were both economical and environmentally friendly. The materials used in this project were timber, stone, glass and bricks made out of baked clay, a series of resources that state a clear relation to the area’s vernacular(www.usonia1.com). This is exactly what Utzon did for his own house.
Wright’s concept included an L-shaped floor plan with a two by two grid as a guideline. Utzon consequently used a certain pattern as well by making everything a multiple of 120mm. The living and dining areas as well as the kitchen are all in a single open area in contrast to the two bedrooms and the study which are enclosed in their own rooms. He, as well as Utzon, make the same clear distinction between the private and public areas of the house, the serving and served. The whole house is characterized by the simplicity of the materials and space.
Floor heating, Chinese method. Both houses.
A house in which was undoubtedly influenced by Utzon’s creation is Richard Horden’s residence in Poole Dorset.
Utzon is a great mind in the history of architecture and his Hellebæk house still remains as an example of how well he could implement modern structures of the mid-century. The yellow brick is still standing symmetrically and geometrically inside the deep Danish woods.
 

How the Social Pressures and Norms Dictate Nora’s Lifestyle in A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

The Suppression of Freedom

A Doll’s House, a play by Henrik Ibsen, places main characters Nora Helmer and Torvald Helmer in a Norwegian city during the winter of 1879. Nora and Torvald along with their three kids live in an upper-middle-class home where Torvald predominantly holds all power over their household. Back then a woman’s role was to remain in the house and do housework compared to now where society is learning to become more equal to both men and women. In the play, Ibsen gives the reader a clear picture that Nora’s life and freedom are being held back by not only the men in the play but also by societal norms which were different in the 1800s than they are now.

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Like most of the people in the real world, everyone in the play has a different meaning to freedom. Money plays a big role in this play for Torvald Helmer, being very safe with his money and not overspending. Ibsen implies that Torvald’s meaning of absolute freedom is economic security. In multiple occasions where Nora asks Torvald to borrow money or even spend more than usual, Torvald replies to her with how unnecessary it is to spend more money than they need to.

“NORA: Oh, but Torvald, this year we really should let ourselves go a bit. It’s the first Christmas we haven’t had to economize.

HELMER: But you know we can’t go squandering.

 NORA: Oh yes, Torvald, we can squander a little now. Can’t we? Just a tiny, wee bit. Now that you’ve got a big salary and are going to make piles and piles of money.” (Ibsen 2)

 No matter how much money Torvald makes he wants to make sure that he is financially secure. Being financially stable means he can not only keep up with Nora’s spending habits but he can also secure his future and not have to work again, for many Americans in today’s society freedom means exactly that, not having to work and retiring with some money to their name. Torvald fears being in debt or having to owe someone money enough so that when Nora asks him to borrow money he says:

“TORVALD: Nora, Nora, how like a woman! No, but seriously, Nora, you know what I think about that. No debts! Never borrow! Something of freedom’s lost – and something of beauty, too – from a home that’s founded on borrowing and debt. We’ve made a brave stand up to now, the two of us; and we’ll go right on like that the little while we have to.” (2)

Ibsen’s interpretation of Nora’s freedom is a working idea because she had no self-identity at the beginning of the play; Torvald controlled Nora’s life for most of the time they spent together. Her thought of freedom at the beginning of the play was having a family, a husband and having money but that later changed when Ibsen introduced Mrs. Linde when showed up to their home. Mrs. Linde admitted that her marriage was a waste of time due to her husband leaving her out of the will and having no children with him. This is when Nora realizes that she’s being suffocated by Torvald and changes her stance on what freedom: being independent and finding her own path to success.

“HELMER: May I write you?

NORA: No—never. You’re not to do that.” (75)

In this dialogue with Torvald she begins to realize that he’s not as important as she once thought and that he has held her back, she will no longer deal with his overpowering behavior. By Nora leaving she indicates that she has gained her freedom and will not twist or turn on her decision.

Torvald having absolute power financially holds most of the power in his home. He controls everything that happens in his home that includes his wife Nora. Torvald has controlled every aspect of Nora’s life.

“DR. RANK: See here, macaroons! I thought they were contraband here.

NORA: Yes, but these are some that Kristine gave me.” (17)

Torvald has forbidden certain food for Nora. This is just one example of the many things that he has restricted for Nora. Another example is Nora’s lack of freedom when it comes to speaking:

“NORA: Now there’s just one last thing in the world that I have an enormous desire to do.

DR. RANK: Well! And what’s that?

NORA: It’s something I have such a consuming desire to say to Torvald could hear.

DR. RANK: And why can’t you say it?

NORA: I don’t dare. It’s quite shocking.

MRS. LINDE: Shocking?

DR. RANK: Well, then it isn’t advisable. But in front of us, you certainly can. What do you have such a desire to say so Torvald could hear?

NORA: I have such a huge desire to say – to hell and be damned!” (18).

Nora has been so brainwashed by Torvald’s control that even she begins to realize that it’s quite unreasonable how he treats her.

Societal pressures and norms play a very big role in the world we live in, things people viewed as different in the 1870s could be seen a lot more normal now. Women have gotten a more prominent role in society now than before. There were many societal rules that barred women from having the same equal opportunities as men and that created a conflict in Nora’s case when she borrowed money from Krogstad:

“NORA: But for heaven’s sake, Mr. Krogstad, it’s simply not in my power to help you.

KROGSTAD: That’s because you haven’t the will to—but I have the means to make you.

NORA: You certainly won’t tell my husband that I owe you money?”

 Since women were not allowed to borrow money without their husband’s permission, Krogstad used this to threaten Nora and expose her to Torvald about the money. As aforementioned Torvald despises the thought of having to borrow money so this was a big smack in the face to Torvald and what he believes in. Women helping men would be a huge sign of weakness especially in times where men were seen as superior to women. Borrowing that money to help Torvald in times of very bad health was seen as a sign of weakness for Torvald. Even Nora acknowledges the fact that she knows that society would view Torvald as a weaker man for his wife saving his life:

“NORA: For heaven’s sake, no! Are you serious? He’s so strict on that subject. Besides -Torvald, with all his masculine pride – how painfully humiliating for him if he ever found out he was in debt to me. That would just ruin our relationship. Our beautiful, happy home would never be the same.” (13).

Nora did not want to conform to regular societal norms and remain with her husband and this was viewed very badly by people such as Mrs. Linde who think that’s how women should be living their life: married, mothers, caretakers. Societal pressure had a big influence on lifestyles back then and still plays a big part now in how people live in society.

 Realizing that one needs freedom takes growth, and that is what Ibsen had Nora do, grow, since the beginning of the play she became more independent and a free individual. Nora rises from her shell to become an individual and it is shown throughout the play, Nora is presented with multiple situations where she has to make difficult decisions such as declining to be with Dr. Rank romantically, refusing to help Krogstad get his job back and hiding her secret from Torvald. After making these difficult decisions she begins to realize that she is more than mature enough and capable of making her own decisions and be independent of Torvald. Her growth is not shown by age but by her mentality. Nora leaving signifies that she is ready for the next chapter of her life proving to herself that she can survive without Torvald.

 In A Doll’s House Ibsen gives the reader a clear picture that Nora’s life and freedom are being held back by not only the men in the play but also by societal norms which were different back then than they are now. The meaning of freedom is different from person to person and that was clearly shown with the differences between Nora and Torvald, Torvald holds a dominant position in their relationship and it shows by how suppressive he is towards Nora’s freedom as well as how societal norms have influenced Nora’s lifestyle and behavior finally the growth of Nora’s character throughout the play, flourishing as an independent individual and gaining individual freedom. The audience realizes that Nora was deserving of freedom and that leaving was the correct choice for her.

Works Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House, translated by Rolf Fjelde.  The Norton      Introduction to Literature, edited by Jerome Beatty, et al, 8th Edition, Norton      & Company, 2002, New York.
 

Gender Roles in “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen and “Fences” by August Wilson

 Society has a way of defining the roles of men and women, husbands and wives, and fathers and mothers. Some couples fall comfortably in these defined roles and can have fulfilled lives, while others struggle within this stereotypical structure that constitutes a happy family. In the two dramatic plays “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen, and “Fences” by August Wilson gender role is an important theme. The female characters in each of the plays, Nora and Rose, stay home and are portrayed as unable to work to support their families. The male characters, Torvald and Troy, are shown as the financial providers who control the household but have no meaningful family relationships. As husbands, Torvald treats his wife like a doll while Troy expects his to be a dutiful woman. And as wives, Nora and Rose are mentally and physically controlled by their husbands. As fathers, both men exert opinion and power over their children, while the mothers nurture in the case of Rose, or become their playmate like Nora. Both playwrights develop their characters, use exposition, and institute language, (dialogue) to effectively explore how stereotypical gender roles can create conflicts in relationships that become unrepairable.

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 Characterization is used successfully in both plays to illustrate the conflicts that arise with gender role restrictions. In “A Doll’s House” Torvald is the only one who works in the family, which is a traditional role for a man. He tells Nora “You talk like a child. You don’t understand the conditions of the world in which you live.” (Ibsen, 814) His character believes in the traditional roles for women as staying in the home and caring for the children. Nora does not have outside employment, and her character is considered a homemaker. However, because of the household income level, Nora does not have to perform the typical female responsibilities. Instead, she has a maid to perform the cleaning and a nanny to take care of her children. If Nora needs money, she must ask Torvald for it. This includes money for everyday household expenses, as well as things she may want like a new gown or money to buy the children Christmas gifts. Before marrying Torvald, Nora is described as an obedient daughter who was “transferred from her father to her husband.” (Ibsen, 817) Similarly, in “Fences” Troy is the sole provider for his family. However, while Nora must ask her husband for money, Troy gives his pay to Rose each Friday. He is raised by a father who tells him that he doesn’t care for him out of love, but instead it is out of responsibility. Troy’s character is proud of his success in providing for his family, but he is weighted down carrying the burden of all these responsibilities, which includes building the fence. Rose is the classic housewife. Unlike Nora, she is expected to perform the traditional household duties such as cleaning, cooking and caring for the children. She loves Troy and wants to be a good wife and sacrifices in order to meet society’s expectations. Rose says “Don’t you think I ever wanted other things? Don’t you think I had dreams and hopes?” (Wilson, 884) She allows Troy to control her in exchange for giving her protection by saying “that’s what life offered me in the way of being a woman and I took it.” (Wilson, 886) With these lead characters, the storylines in each of the plays then focuses on a conflicted plot where, because of gender roles, relationships are damaged.

 In both “A Doll’s House” and “Fences” Nora and Rose make sacrifices for their husbands strengthening the exposition and theme surrounding gender roles. However, instead of earning their husbands’ respect and love, both women ultimately end their relationships. When Nora’s husband becomes ill, she borrows money, forging her father’s signature on the promissory note. This action goes against typical gender roles, because women are not allowed to borrow without their husband’s consent. She squanders money in order to make the monthly payments, because Torvald would not allow her to work stating “Socially, only widows got jobs.” (Ibsen, 837) Then, in the final act, Nora reveals to Torvald her secret. She imagines that Torvald will see her sacrifices and is “waiting for the miracle” (Ibsen, 835) that their marital bond will be stronger after her secret is revealed. However, instead of recognizing her sacrifice, Torvald’s ego is damaged. “I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora –bear sorrow and want for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his honour for the one he loves.” (Ibsen, 833) After hearing this, Nora decides to leave Torvald and her children realizing that she doesn’t even know who she is. “I have learned that when a wife deserts her husband’s house, as I am doing now, he is legally freed from all obligations towards her.” (Ibsen, 842) Similarly, Rose is asked to make sacrifices for her husband in “Fences.” However, her sacrifice comes out of the actions of Troy. Rose is expected to be the mother to all of Troy’s children, but their relationship is tested when Troy confesses to Rose that he is having an affair with a woman named Alberta. Rose is performing her daily activities of taking care of the family and preparing the meal when Troy announces, “I’m trying to find a way to tell you…I’m gonna be a daddy.” (Wilson, 908) An argument begins, where Rose asks Troy “why?” and he responds that he feels free with Alberta and he can “just be a part of himself that he ain’t never been” (Wilson, 913) And, even as Rose explains that that she has given up her needs and wants and “buried them inside” (Wilson, 917), Troy refuses to end his affair. But Rose’s ultimate sacrifice comes six months later when Troy asks Rose to take care of his child, Raynell, after Alberta dies in childbirth. She agrees but says “From right now…this child got a mother. But you a womanless man.” (Wilson, 923) While different than Nora, who completely freed herself from Torvald in “A Doll’s House,” Rose only cuts her emotional ties from Troy by agreeing to stay and care for his children.

 Finally, the language/dialogue used in both “A Doll’s House” and “Fences” directly supports the importance of gender role and its damaging effect it can have on relationships. Rather than calling his wife by her name, Torvald has nicknames for Nora such as “my little squirrel,” “songbird,” and “lark” which are patronizing. He also states that Nora should be “Before all else a wife and mother. (Ibsen, 845). Torvald’s control over Nora is also stated, when Nora lies about eating a macaroon by saying “You know I could never think of going against you.” (Ibsen, 850) And, because Nora needs to act like a helpless songbird, she could not tell Torvald about her forged loan because it would damage his “masculine pride” and “just ruin their relationship.” (Ibsen, 853). When Nora realizes Torvald’s dominance over her and makes her decision to leave, she says “I believe that, before all else, I’m a human being, no less than you-or anyway, I ought to try to become one.” (Ibsen, 879) Similar to Torvald in “A Doll’s House,” Troy, in “Fences,” doesn’t call Rose by her name. Instead, he calls her “woman” which feels distant and cold. As Rose reflects on her life with Troy, she has stayed with him, although the road has been “hard and rocky” (Wilson, 924). After confessing to his affair, Troy won’t give up Alberta saying that he is a “different man” (Wilson, 925) with her where he doesn’t have the weight of his family burdens. And, when Rose makes the ultimate sacrifice to stay with Troy and raise Raynell, she says “I been standing with you!…I gave you eighteen year of my life to stand in the same spot with you.” (Wilson, 917).

In conclusion, in using characters, exposition, and language both Henrik Ibsen in “A Doll’s House” and August Wilson in “Fences” effectively explore how stereotypical gender roles can create conflicts in relationships that become unrepairable. In both plays the women are expected to stay home and sacrifice their own wants and needs for their husbands and children. The men have a duty to provide for their families, and both have expectations as to how their wives and children should perform in life. The men never have the realization that their roles lack partnership and depth, so that in the end, both women are forced to take a stand that changes their marriages forever.

Works Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. 12th ed. Ed. Kelly J. Mays. New York: Norton, 1953. pp. 813-871.

Wilson, August. “Fences.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. 12th ed. Ed. Kelly J. Mays. New York: Norton, 1953. pp. 874-933.

 

A Woman’s Role in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

Playing dollhouse

A woman’s place in society has always been mapped out for her before birth. Women born in a patriarchal society of the late 1800s must endure the discrimination brought against them in a male-dominated time. In those times a wife and mother were regarded as women’s most important occupations. During the period women normally had less legal rights and career opportunities than men. Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, though written by a male using his own life experiences gave feminist the inspiration and acknowledgment they needed. A Doll’s House focuses on the issues present in that time in society such as sexism, individuality, self-awareness, honesty vs deception and the sacrificial role of women.

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Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian play write who devoted his life to inspiring individualism in society. His plays reverse traditional societal roles. Ibsen source of his ideas and characters come from experiences he lived through. However, he constructed fictional characters with similar situations of his own to explore these emotions. Ibsen’s real-life father like Nora’s papa in A Doll’s House, squandered all their wealth he had obtained through marrying his wife. Ibsen was reverted to poverty and his family’s suffering public humiliation. Later in his life his experiences established in his focus of individuality which is characterized in A Doll’s House through the character of Nora.

In the play, Nora and Torvald‘s relationship is based on societal sexism. The role of each in the marriage is defined by what the men. The women have lesser status and value than the men this is shown where Torvald says “Nora! The same little featherhead.” Torvald is implying that he thinks Nora is not smart, and her thoughts are just bare without value.

Nora is expected to be his ideal wife, a woman who depends on a man to make important decisions. Torvald constantly makes degrading remarks like “that is like a woman!” he believes that Nora should be submissive and act the way he wants her to. In an article on Conner Prairie titled Lives of Women this behavior of sexism towards women as The Cult of Domesticity which states “Women’s God-given role was to be a wife, mother and be obedient to your husband.” This is explaining why men regard women as the lesser sex because they were told that was a woman’s purpose ordained by God.

 Torvald reveals just what low regard he has for women, calling Nora “a thoughtless woman”. In his mind, women have no life outside of their men. Torvald is unable to see Nora as her own person with her own thoughts, wants, and needs and Nora realizes this. She is now faced with the choice of leaving this sexist marriage and find herself. The Women’s International Center article titled Women’s History in America explains Torvald and Nora’s interaction as women have been viewed as a resourceful source of life. However, “they have been considered not only intellectually inferior to men” for example, but it was also a woman, Pandora, who opened the forbidden box and brought plagues and unhappiness to mankind. So since then, women were described as children, and inferior to men.

The play possesses the struggles that come into place when trying to find individuality in a society that doesn’t uphold that for women.  When Krogstad says “there is not the least pleasure in working for oneself.” She is pushing Nora to leave her motherly and wifely duties and reject social norms. Nora must step out of her role in order to her unique personality. Conner Prairie’s Lives of Women article describes the late 1800s where women were pulling against these traditions “Women’s roles were meant to be steady all this uncertainty, but women could not help but see opportunities for themselves in this growth.” Women were starting to feel the urge of being their own individual and were starting to rebel against social norms.

Krogstad and Christine are no longer bounded to their patriarchal bonds of society. Christine and Krogstad represent individuality in the play. Where Krogstad did the same crime as Nora and gained her independence that Nora longs for. By using these characters who have lived outside of society’s expectations, Ibsen is representing Nora’s rebellion towards society. In an article on Conner Prairie where is states “Educating females would destroy the delicacy of the female’s character”. Which means that giving women their own identity and knowledge would destroy the foundation of their gender roles.

The theme of self-awareness is revealed throughout Nora‘s journey. At the beginning of the play, Nora lacks self-awareness. Throughout the play, she gains a sense of who she is, and is now able to identify her own morals and emotional point of view from those that her husband and father had imposed on her before. When Torvald says “poisonous..in the presence of those near and dear to him.” about Krogstad as, these words now trigger Nora down the path of self-discovery. At that moment she decides, “I shall not be able to be so much with them now as I was before.” It was the thought of herself as being unworthy or harmful to her children forces Nora to see the consequences of her actions. The Women’s History in America’s article titled Women’s History in America states “women are the stronger sex that buries their own emotions and needs in order to survive” women acknowledge their self-awareness as them retaliating to men’s oppression and realizing their worth.

Torvald has now cause Nora to doubt herself about being a good person, it is Dr. Rank acknowledgment his of self-awareness and speaking this truth and facing his death that leads Nora to see herself for who she is. When Torvald exposes himself as a hypocrite that cares about what people will think of his character and question his manhood, is when Nora chooses not to let him decide things for her anymore and gain her own sense of self.

Through the characters actions, Ibsen emphasizes the importance of honesty and deception. From the start, Nora lies and hides from the truth, the more confused she becomes about herself through a small deception. The lies told to Torvald and the deeper lies of Nora’s self-deception Nora finds herself hiding more of the truth away from those around her.

When Christine tells Krogstad to leave the letter for  Torvald to read it, now Nora has come face to face with the truth. The truth that would turn her husband to question her character as a woman The Women’s History in America’s article titled Women’s History in America states that “The Bible has painted to men what a woman should be like now women are being disregarded for who they are.” Men who believe in the bible have drafted their own thoughts of what their wives should be and when they act differently, they are going against the biblical truth that paints them as honest and righteous.

Ibsen depicts the sacrificial role of women of all economic status in society. Nora’s claim that though men refuse to sacrifice their integrity, “hundreds of thousands of women have.” Even though Nora has a better financial advantage over the other female characters, she lives a hard life filled with deception because society has dictated that Torvald is the dominant one in the marriage. Torvalds rules and patronizes Nora, but Nora must hide her emotions for her own survival. Sacrificing her own happiness for her husband and children sake. Women could not do business or have to control their own money, they needed the permission of the men. In Conner Prairie’s article “Women were born natural caregivers…. with survival skills….. that neglect their own needs even their health.”  Women for generations have been doing whatever is necessary for their existence and their families, even if it means putting themselves last. Women were given a central role

In concluding A Doll’s House Ibsen Through his life experiences, he writes a play reflecting his life using fictional characters. His writing is a form of feminism activism for women in the late 1800s. He uses Nora and Torvald relationship to expose the sexism that is in the story as Torvald deems himself as the superior sex. He brings light to women finding self-awareness in and now trying to separate themselves from their wifely and motherly duties and finding something of their own, through this their sense of individuality is form in a society that tells them to act a certain way despite who they really are. The women in this play also must give up their own needs in order to maintain a stable life for themselves and their families. While also contradicting their persona to fight back against their male oppressors.

Work cited

 

Impact of House Prices on the UK Economy

What happens to house prices is perceived as being very important for the wider UK economy. Consider to what extent house prices are important for the UK economy and how the government (or Bank of England) should respond to a sharp fall in house prices.
Introduction
The health of the residential property market is seen as a very important factor in the UK economy, and house prices have risen dramatically (though unevenly around the country) between 1996 and 2005. Some analysts argued that this was the result of a ‘bubble’ in the housing market, rather than due to purely economic reasons, while others argued that the rise in prices was a rational reaction to high employment, economic stability and low interest rates. The price rises slowed in 2005 and that led some analysts to predict a sharp fall in prices. These fears proved unfounded, as renewed growth since late 2005 has led most analysts to predict modest price rises in the medium term. However, many analysts remain concerned that housing prices may fall sharply in the near future.

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This essay will first consider the different ways in which house prices in an economy relate to (and impact on) the performance of that economy more broadly, outlining in particular the specificities of the UK housing market that make its prices especially important to the UK economy. It will then examine the policies the government (or Bank of England) could adopt in response to a sharp fall in house prices, assessing which of these would be the most appropriate. Finally, it will also consider some longer term policies which could reduce house price volatility and the impact of house prices on the wider UK economy.
The relationship between house prices and the wider economy
The most obvious way in which house prices affect the wider economy is through their impact on household consumption (Cameron 2005:4) – a fall in house prices, for example, makes homeowners feel less wealthy so they tend to reduce consumption. Furthermore, a fall in house prices also reduces consumption indirectly by making it harder for people to borrow. Credit constraints are increased through two key channels: (1) reduced house prices means homeowners have reduced collateral against which they can borrow, further reducing consumption; and (2) lending institutions make losses when housing prices fall, and so they reduce their lending or tighten their lending policies.
According to Oswald (1999:2), ‘an economy’s ‘natural rate’ of unemployment depends on the ease with which its citizens can move around to find jobs. Fluid societies have efficient economies.’ High house prices and a relatively small private rental market make it more difficult for people to move around to find jobs, and thus can contribute to unemployment.
House prices can also have an indirect effect on the exchange rate, which is a particular concern because it may lead to a crash in house prices. High house prices contribute to high levels of household indebtedness which can be associated with increasing the current account deficit. This, in turn, may suddenly trigger a correction in the exchange rate. If the exchange rate is weakened, a sharp rise in inflation and interest rates may follow, leading to a sharp fall in house prices.
House prices and the UK economy
According to Cameron (2005:3), the high level of house ownership in the UK means that households are ‘exposed to a considerable amount of risk (almost half a million households had their homes repossessed in the 1990s).’ Not only are house prices more volatile in the UK than elsewhere in the developed world, the impact of house prices on consumer spending is also particularly heavy in the UK – according to the OECD, a 1% fall in UK housing wealth correlates with a 0.07% fall in consumer spending. The nature of the UK housing market (typically high loan to value ratios, few long-term fixed rate mortgages, and easy to re-mortgage) makes house prices particularly volatile and responsive to interest rates. Cameron (2005:3) explains that ‘a one percentage point rise in the short-term real interest rate would reduce house prices over a five year period by 2.6% in the UK, 1.8% in the US, and 1.3% in Germany.’
The UK housing market is characterized not only by a high level of home ownership and typically high loan to value mortgage ratios, but also by an insufficient housing supply. Demand consistently outstrips supply and the market is not sufficiently responsive, primarily due to the limited land available for construction and the difficulties in obtaining planning permission for new buildings. ‘Constrained housing supply leads to increasingly unaffordable housing, frustrating the home ownership aspirations of many individuals and families. It also leads to wealth redistribution from those outside the housing market to those inside it. Low housing supply reduces labour mobility, damaging the flexibility and performance of the UK economy and key public services, and can also translate into wider macroeconomic instability.’ (HM Treasury 2005:9)
Barker (2004:3) explains her view of the importance of the housing market to the UK economy more broadly: ‘Volatility in the housing market, in the UK, combined with the strong association between house prices and private consumption (reflecting in part high levels of owner occupation) is striking. Consequently, the housing market has contributed to macroeconomic volatility, creating a more difficult environment for businesses and for economic policy makers.’
Responding to a sharp fall in house prices
In order to respond to a sharp fall in house prices, the main tool which the government or central bank has at its disposition is monetary policy. If there is a sharp fall in house prices, consumption can be expected to drop (as per the relationship between house prices and consumption outlined in the first section of this essay) and there is a danger that a recession with ensue. In order to prevent this, the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England should respond to any such fall by reducing interest rates, even though this may not be compatible with meeting their inflation target. This should help house prices to grow again, thus building up wealth and promoting consumption. Further, it will make credit more accessible which will also encourage consumption.
Longer term policies
Rather than being forced to respond to a sharp fall in house prices, the British government, or the Bank of England, would be better off developing longer-term strategies to prevent such a sharp fall in the first place – that is to say, they should be proactive rather than reactive. Cameron (2005:4) argues that it may be possible to make the UK housing market behave more like the US housing market (i.e. to make prices less responsive to interest rates and less volatile) ‘if the share of long-term fixed-rate mortgages could be increased (even when UK borrowers do take out fixed-rate mortgages, they tend to only fix the rate for three to five years).’
According to the OECD (2005:3), the risk of a sharp fall in house prices has been significantly reduced, and this has been achieved by longer term monetary strategies. ‘If a relatively “soft landing” in the housing market has indeed been achieved it owes much to the strategy of gradual preemptive monetary tightening, in marked contrast to previous episodes when an abrupt correction in house prices was triggered by sharp interest rate rises. Nevertheless, reforms are needed to make housing supply more elastic to damp future housing market cycles.’ Furthermore, Miles (2004:97) argues that in order for monetary policy to be most effective in stabilizing the currently volatile housing market, the UK mortgage facilities also need to be improved, and borrowers should be better informed.
Conclusion
Because house ownership levels are high in the UK, and because houses represent most households’ biggest asset, house prices are particularly important to the UK economy. As it currently functions, the UK housing market is insufficiently flexible to respond to, and reflect, the needs of the economy as a whole. Fortunately a drastic fall in house prices is unlikely in the near future. To prevent one in the medium to long term, the government should consider increasing the flexibility of the housing market. This could be achieved through relaxing planning regulations and adapting the mortgage market.
References
Barker, K. (2004) ‘Review of Housing Supply: Delivering Stability: Securing our Future Housing Needs’, Final Report – Recommendations (downloaded from http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/053/C7/barker_review_execsum_91.pdf on 26 February 2007)
Cameron, G. (2005) ‘The UK Housing Market: Economic Review’ (downloaded from http://hicks.nuff.ox.ac.uk/users/cameron/papers/ukhousingmarket.pdf on 22 February 2007)
HM Treasury (2005) ‘Housing Policy: An Overview’ (downloaded from http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/296/69/housing_policy190705.pdf on 26 February 2007)
Miles, D. (2004) ‘The UK Mortgage Market: Taking a Longer-Term View’, HMSO (downloaded from http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/80DDF/miles04_470.pdf on 22 February 2007)
Muellbauer, J. & Murphy, A. (1997) ‘Booms and Busts in the UK Housing Market’, The Economic Journal, Vol. 107, No. 445. (Nov., 1997), pp. 1701-1727
OECD (2005) ‘Economic Survey of the United Kingdom, 2005 (downloaded from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/18/34/35473312.pdf on 24 February 2007)
Oswald, A. (1999) ‘The Housing Market and Europe’s Unemployment: A Non-Technical Paper’, Warwick University (downloaded from www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/faculty/oswald/homesnt.pdf on 27 February 2007)
Wadhwani, S. (2002) ‘Household Indebtedness, the Exchange Rate and Risks to the UK Economy’, Bank of England speech delivered to the Macclesfield Chamber of Commerce on Monday, 25 March 2002 (downloaded from https://164.109.43.50/publications/speeches/2002/speech166.pdf on 22 February 2007)
 

What Is the Point of the House of Lords?

The House of Lords is a fundamental part of the UKs bicameral legislative system, being an appropriate check and balance to the House of Commons in legislative matters. However, this has been brought into question after the Recent Welfare Reform Bill.
This essay aims to examine ‘what is the point in the House of Lords?’ It will first look into its history, then its role in Parliament and how it has changed over time. It will focus on the welfare reform bill and the ban on hunting with hounds as its main examples.
The House of Lords are also called the Upper Chamber and are a part of the legislature. Legislature is the part of government that discuss and pass laws (Jones, 2010). It is made up of the Commons, Lords and the Queen, only the Commons are elected. The executive is the party in power and is responsible for implementing the laws and policies made by legislature (Jones, 2010).

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The Houses of Parliament are divided up into two parts, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The House of Lords is one of the two chambers of HM Parliament. The House of Lords is the second chamber of Parliament and is also called the Upper House (Jones, 2010). The House of Lords is separate to but works alongside the elected House of Commons. The House of Lords are made up of inherited Lords and Life peers. Modern Lords are appointed by the PM. The appointed peers tend to have a specialist area of knowledge, for example health or education. The House of Commons is made up of elected members (Budge, 2004). The House of Lords has 736 members, 86 more than the House of Commons. There are only 92 hereditary Lords left after they were thrown out by the Labour Government in 1999 as it was deemed undemocratic (Knight 2010).
The first part of the House of Lords is the remaining hereditary members, the second part are appointed by the Prime Minister and they are given their titles, for example ‘Lady Margaret Thatcher’ so as she was given the title by the Prime Minister who took over from her she had a seat in the House of Lords. The third part is made up of the court system and the church and people in positions of expertise (Monroe, 2002). Before taking a seat in The House of Lords the peer has to swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch (Jones, 2010). The House of Lords is a combination of tradition and modern legislature (Monroe, 2002)
Laws are only made if the Commons, Lords and the Monarch can agree. An unwritten constitution (a convention), states that the Monarch has always got to agree to new laws made by Parliament. The Lords can also only suggest amendments too legislation but does not actually have the power to make the changes, meaning the Commons hold the power (Budge, 2004). The legislative process starts with the draft papers, white and green papers. They are published to allow consultation from interested parties such as professional bodies and voluntary organisations before the bill is introduced into the House of Commons (Jones, 2010). They have their first reading in which it is just read out and then a second reading where there is a debate and a vote to move on to the committee stage which is pre-legislative scrutiny where the draft bill is considered by a departmental select committee this allows the MPs and members of Lords to have an early influence on the Bill (Jones, 2010). In the committee stage they vote for amendments and send it to the report stage. In the report stage they discuss the amendments; they then go to the Third reading which in the House of Lords.
The key purpose of The House of Lords is voting on whether to accept or reject legislation drawn up by The House of Commons (Jones, 2010). Suggesting amendments to legislation drawn up by The House of Commons and debating legislation drawn up by the House of Commons, they can also introduce new laws to be debated. Although the important laws start the legislative process with the Commons, the House of Lords do draw up some legislation, for example ensuring children with special needs and disabilities have access to mainstream education or protecting the right to legal aid in welfare cases and insisting on equality of the NHS treatment for physical and mental illness (www.parliament.uk).
Members spend nearly half their time in the House considering draft laws. All bills have to be considered by both Houses of Parliament before they can become law (Jones, 2010).
The House of Commons send legislation to the House of Lords, in the form of the white paper, but the 1911 Act has taken away the ability for The House of Lords to stop legislation sent down by The House of Commons. This started when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lloyd George, suggested in 1909 the introduction of the first old age pension and a majority of the Lords voted against (Knight, 2010). The main purposes of the Act was 1) The House of Lords can only delay a money bill for one month, and 2) Limiting the time the Lords can delay a bill, meaning if it was rejected three times the Bill could receive Royal Assent without approval from The House of Lords (Gillespie, 2013.) This has only been used four times in the last twenty five years. One of these was to pass The Parliament Act of 1949 which was an amendment of the 1911 Act making it so the Lords could only reject the bill two times rather than three before it could be passed with Royal Assent (Gillespie, 2013). These Acts took a lot of power away from the Lords.
The current PM is allegedly preparing to use the Parliament Act for the first time in ten years to push through the EU Referendum Bill into Law before the next election (Holehouse, 2014). “The Act is sometimes described as the nuclear option of parliamentary to break stalemates between the Commons and the Lords” (Holehouse, 2014). An MP was quoted saying “It shows that they really, really want it to happen. It also shows the Lords that they can’t mess with it”.
Although the Lords have been stripped of a lot of their power, there are advantages to the Lords. There can be a lot more individual expression in the House of Lords (Knight, 2010). Many of its members have a lot of experience in different areas of life; with this experience making an important contribution to the progress of legislation and serves to caution the government of the day (Jones, 2010). The House of Lords are also responsible for holding government to account. Members in the Upper Chamber scrutinise the work of the government during question time and debates in the chamber. “In the 2012-13 session, members held the government to account with 7,324 oral and written questions and 193 debates on issues ranging from child poverty to immigration” (www.parliament.uk).
The Lords can also moderate the Commons using their expertise and making sure nothing too radical is put through (www.parliament.uk). Peers have less to lose, being free thinkers. If an MP was to go against their party leader then they could be ignored when looking for a job although some do still have party affiliation and will vote on side of their party (Knight, 2010). Some people however, would argue that having the House of Lords is healthy for our system as it means it isn’t led by political machines with party agendas (Knight, 2010).
‘Ping ponging’ is the toing and froing of amendments to Bills between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. A good example of this is The Hunting with Hounds Act which experienced seven years of ‘ping ponging’ between the two houses. Three private members Bills were introduced by Labour MPs between 1992 and 1995 to ban hunting with no success (Garnett, 2007).
However, in a 1997 manifesto Labour offered a free vote on the subject. In 1998 the Bill got its second reading in the Commons and was ‘talked out’ by the third reading (Garnett, 2007). In 2000 a new bill was proposed with a compromise of hunting with a licence, this was rejected by the commons and thrown out by the Lords. The Bill had been introduced too late to meet the terms of the Parliament Act of 1949. After Blair was re-elected in 2001 the ‘ping pong’ effect still continued, with the Commons passing a new Bill and the Lords rejecting it, until 2004 when the conditions of the Parliament Act 1949 had been met and the Bill was given Royal Assent (Garnett, 2007).
The House of Lords Reform draft bill was introduced in 2011. The Reform wants to outline the powers and responsibility of the relationships between the two houses. This would define the point of ‘financial privilege’. This could be hard to reach an agreement on when it could be rejected and what kind of amendments the House of Lords could make before they were ‘wrecking amendments’ and what circumstances the Lords would be able to reject secondary legislation (draft house of lords reform bill: report session 2010-12, Vol. 1: Report).
Originally ‘Financial Privilege’ was seen as something dealing with Bills dealing with supply and taxation. However in the recent reform bill it was used to reject a lot of the amendments by the Lords and to prevent the bill ‘ping ponging’. The financial implications were seen as big enough by the Speaker to grant financial privilege (Crampton, 2012). Financial privilege is being used a lot more reducing the effect of the Lords scrutiny.
Despite the fact the House of Lords do not appear to hold much in the way of power, the House are specialists in different fields offering expertise advice. Also, peers do not have a party agenda and therefore pose employability risk in going against their party. This is useful as these limitations can prevent any radical changes in law. But without any power to have their amendments noted there is really no point in the House of Lords if they can be over ruled completely.
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Louis Isadore Kahn Architect: Fisher House

Louis Isadore Kahn was born on February 20, 1901 on the Island of Saaremaa, Estonia to Leopold and Bertha Mendelsohn. Upon emmigrating to the state of Philadelphia in the U.S, the early part of the family’s life was marked by extreme poverty as Kahn’s father suffered a terrible back injury which forced the family to lean heavily on the knitted clothing samples produced by Kahn’s mother for financial stability. In his younger years Kahn had suffered severe burns to his face because he got too close to a collection of burning coals; when asked about why he defied his senses, Kahn said that he was attracted by the beautiful colours of the embers. This tragic accident suggests that Kahn experienced much curiosity from a very young age, for materials and their means, hence why he got so close to the burning coals.

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It is believed that Kahn’s first architectural masterpiece was the Yale University Art Gallery (1951-1953). This contribution complemented Kahn’s modernistic approach because it presented how he interpreted the environment which surrounded that particular area where the Gallery was built. For instance, the interior spaces seemed to evoke an entirely different world from the brash mass-produced outside environment. Kahn achieved this by using standardized panels, suspended ceilings, subtle effects of light falling over the triangulated web of the concrete ceiling and by the direct use of materials, evident in the bare yet elegant concrete piers.
Kahn’s method of design was influenced by his schooling under the Beaux-Arts system at Philadelphia lead by Paul Cret. In Kahn’s education great emphasis was placed upon the discovery of a central and appropriate generating idea for a building which was to be captured in a sketch, rather like an ideogram. This approach to teaching was supposed to educate young architects with old lessons. This influence appears evident in Kahn’s work due to the appreciation he presents for the materials. It was supposed that Kahn would talk to the materials being used in his designs.
Kahn’s immersion in the artistic realm was shaped by two individuals, both of whom were products of Thomas Eakins’ “Romantic Realism” teaching method, J. Liberty Tadd and William Gray. J. Liberty Tadd, teacher at the Public Industrial Art School, worked directly under Eakins and crafted his teaching style closely to Eakins’ methodology. Tadd pushed students to ?nd their own means of expression rather than teach through regulated norms. Central High School teacher William Gray studied under Eakins-disciple Thomas P. Anshutz at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1889-1891.
Furthermore Kahn developed a structural-Rationalist emphasis on construction, and in later life several of his strongest ideas relied upon poetic interpretations of basic structural ideas. Kahn had learned much from Le Corbusier’s Vers une architecture and learned much from Sullivan and Wright and later from Mies van der Rohe.
Kahn had the ability to avoid some of the shortfalls experienced by other major U.S architects; he was capable of handling problems of a large size without degenerating into either an ‘additive’ approach or an overdone grandiosity. For instance, he knew how to fuse together modern constructional means with traditional methods. Ultimately, this demonstrates Kahn’s modernistic outlook between the juxtaposing materials and the impression they had on that particular building whilst maintaing the buildings principle function.
The Fisher House is an example whereby Louis Kahn demonstrates his modernistic influences yet traditional means of design; this is a prime example where Kahn uses his progressive style of teaching which is expanded on above.
Kahn was said to have treated his housing projects as experiments and the Fisher House was no exception. The Fisher family would at times grow tiresome of Kahn’s constant need to find fault with his design then proceed to start from scratch once again. However, this gave him opportunities to explore many of the unique ideas which he himself had formed.
The Fisher House was located on a site which sloped gently down from a main road to a small stream. It consists of three cubes, two large ones connected together and a small, seperate one. These cubes, together with the existing trees, form two inter-connected outdoor spaces: an entrance court and a kitchen court. This idea shows how Kahn utilises the old with the new, for instance the aged trees and new cubic shaped rooms whilst maintaining the use of the rooms. Furthermore two large cubes, connected diagonally, contain two distinct groups of activities. The first cube contains an entrance and the master bedroom suite with dressing room and bathroom on the first floor and two smaller bedrooms on the second floor. The second cube is connected by a large opening to the entrance lobby. The two-story-high first floor contains the kitchen and the living areas seperated by a free-standing stone fireplace.
Fisher House
This image supports the abstract above, whereby the cubic rooms are designed for particular activities that the Fisher family partake in. The particular design of the building creates a fluidity throughout because each room is lay out in a particular order, which has been carefully thought out by Kahn yet, appears effortless when walking through the house. It shows that Kahn was particularly talented in imagining the final house and how its occupants would use it.
The preservation of architecturally significant structures has begun to experience a shift in both style and future use. The tide has shifted towards structures that were both disdained and revered during their time. Modernist structures, while simplistic in form and function, contain a high degree of embedded meaning and significance for the materials used. Kahn’s use of traditional forms, augmented by the precision of modern technology throughout his work represents his multifaceted approach to design, attempting to appeal to both the psyche and the materials, themselves, in order to maintain their ‘trueness to Form’. Kahn was not merely recycling traditionalism, but rather retranslating ‘known’ forms – in both assembly and aesthetics – in order to convey a certain aura. To conclude, it could be suggested that Louis Kahn was a significant architect because he was ahead of his time. This was due to to his appreciation for new technology in a changing world, yet upholding the importance of the materials themselves which was a classical portrayal of design.