The relationships between Helmer and Nora in A Doll’s House and Arnolphe and Agnès in School for Wives are very intricate, and exchanges of dialogue between the characters are used to emphasize the complexity of their relationships. At the beginning of the plays, the insights on the relationships are very superficial, but male dominance and the lack of love are eventually perceptible. In A Doll’s House the initial conversations between Nora and Helmer suggest a perfect life, where Nora can sweet-talk Torvald into doing anything for her. On the other hand, in School for Wives, it is clear from the beginning that Agnès’s whole life was set up according to Arnolphe, to make her the perfect wife so that Arnolphe is not cuckolded. Therefore, the use of dialogues is an important technique used to characterize the relationships the between the characters.
In A Doll’s House, the initial dialogue between Nora and Torvald in the 1st scene suggests that Nora has always been a reckless spender, while Helmer spends wisely. Male dominance is suggested when Helmer tells Nora to not disturb him. The use of a pet name also suggests that Helmer cares for Nora, and their relationship is not just of a husband and wife but there is love too.
Additionally, the dialogue shows that Nora and Helmer think very differently, and that Helmer is the dominant partner. When Nora hides the bag of macaroons and wipes her mouth, it also foreshadows future deception.
In the opening scene in School for Wives it is seen that Arnolphe has fears of being cuckolded, for which reason he adopts a girl, Agnès, at the age of 4 and raises her to be the perfect wife, who is not dull, but not too witty either and will never betray him.
In the preliminary dialogues between Arnolphe and Agnès it is visible that she has been under Arnolphe’s control for a while. Agnès is usually busy sewing clothes, or doing some chore in the house, but cannot go beyond the boundaries of the house. The end of the...