Nora Helmer And Women In American Literature

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Women were valued very little by nineteenth century society. The treatment of these women was also extremely negative; they were expected to stay home and fulfill domestic duties. Literature of this time embodies and mirrors social issues of women in society. Henrik Ibsen uses Nora Helmer in A Doll House to portray the negative treatment of all women throughout society during the nineteenth century. Many women characters throughout American literature reflect the same conflicts and attitudes of Nora in Ibsen's play A Doll House.

The role of a woman was inferior to that of a man, especially in marriages. The main duties of a woman were centered around the home. They were expected to fulfill their domestic duties, such as caring for the children, cooking washing, and cleaning the household. She had the responsibilities of dealing with a household and she almost always had children to care for, which required strength and knowledge; however, being able too fulfill marital duties and satisfying her husband brought satisfaction to some married women.

In the play A Doll House, Nora too finds happiness in keeping her husband pleased. She always 'play-acts' for Torvald, and she enjoys doing so. Nora has the responsibility of dealing with household issues. She basically oversees Anne-Marie, who is the children's nurse, in caring for the three small children; she is also responsible for doing household shopping as suggested in these lines:

...come here so I can show you everything I clothes for Ivar here--and a sword. here a horse and a trumpet for Bob...And here I have dress material and handkerchiefs for the maids. Old Anne Marie really deserves something more. (Ibsen 784)

This proves that Nora does have responsibilities in her home, and she is capable of effectively caring for the members of her family.

In Rose Terry Cooke's "How Celia Changed Her Mind," it is suggested that a married woman is nothing more than someone who is obligated to fulfill domestic responsibilities and duties. Mrs. Celia begins to understand and realize that the image she had of marriage being an equal partnership between the two parties is very uncommon, as illustrated in the following lines: "...she discovered how few among [women] were more than household drudges, the servants of their families, worked to the verge of exhaustion, and neither thanked or re...

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...his reiterates the fact that men thought women were incapable of caring for themselves.

Nora and the women of the nineteenth century have overcome many obstacles as women to develop individuality. Despite the many oppressions in a masculine society forced upon them, the women were willing and able to rise above them. If things are different now, it is due to the growing individualism of the women during the nineteenth century.

Works Cited
Cooke, Rose Terry. "How Celia Changed Her Mind." Solomon 1: 457-77.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "Mrs. Beazley's Deeds." Solomon 1: 505-18.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." Solomon 1: 480-96.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House. Lives Through Literature: A Thematic Anthology. Ed. Helane Levine Keating et al. 2nd ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995. 782-838.
Longford, Elizabeth. Eminent Victorian Women. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1981.
Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart. "The Angel Over the Right Shoulder." Solomon 1: 156-64.
Sigourney, Lydia. "The Intemperate." Solomon 1: 70-85.
Solomon, Barbara H., ed. Rediscoveries: American Short Stories by Women, 1832-1916. New York: Penguin Group, 1994.
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