The Yellow Wallpaper and A Doll’s House

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In society, there has always been a gap between men and women. Women are generally expected to be homebodies, and seen as inferior to their husbands. The man is always correct, as he is more educated, and a woman must respect the man as they provide for the woman’s life. During the Victorian Era, women were very accommodating to fit the “house wife” stereotype. Women were to be a representation of love, purity and family; abandoning this stereotype would be seen as churlish living and a depredation of family status. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" and Henry Isben’s play A Doll's House depict women in the Victorian Era who were very much menial to their husbands. Nora Helmer, the protagonist in A Doll’s House and the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” both prove that living in complete inferiority to others is unhealthy as one must live for them self. However, attempts to obtain such desired freedom during the Victorian Era only end in complications.

The central characters in both “The Yellow Wallpaper” and A Doll’s House are fully aware of their niche in society. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator’s husband believes her illness to be a slight depression, and although she states "personally, I disagree with their ideas,” she knows she must acquiesce their requests anyway (Gilman 1). She says, “What is one to do?” (Gilman 1) The narrator continues to follow her husband’s ideals, although she knows them to be incorrect. She feels trapped in her relationship with her husband, as she has no free will and must stay in the nursery all day. She projects these feelings of entrapment onto the yellow wallpaper. She sees a complex and frustrating pattern, and hidden in the pattern are herself and othe...

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...ow Wallpaper" and Henry Isben’s play A Doll's House both prove that independence is key in a woman’s life in order to feel free; yet social norms of the Victorian Age cause freedom to come at a high cost. Nora, the heroine in A Doll’s House, escapes from her husband’s confinement by leaving her family. While this seems revolutionary, Nora’s freedom will only cause confusion in her life. Had she not had her personal awakening on individualism, she would have remained happy with her family. In the “Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator achieves freedom through madness. The narrator thinks she is free when she goes mad, yet this is only a brief feeling, as she will most likely realize the publicity of her mental state will only increase the restrictions upon her. In both texts, the heroines break for freedom will only result in more confusion and confinement in their lives.

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