A History of Submissive Women in Literature

2215 Words Oct 6th, 2008 9 Pages
The feminine gender has long been one that has been repressed throughout history and forced to acclimate itself to a world dominated by men. Although major improvements have been made in the strife for equality, this continues to be a man’s world. In the short stories “The Chrysanthemums” and “A Rose for Emily,” as well as in the drama “A Doll’s House,” the protagonists are all frustrated women who are unfulfilled with their subservient lives. Partly imposed upon them by their setting’s historical and societal norms, they choose to either do something about it or continue to internalize their dissatisfaction. When analyzing these pieces of literature, it becomes quite obvious which of the protagonists fall under the category of those …show more content…
According to Elizabeth Hardwick, Nora is “intrinsically independent and free-spirited” from the very beginning of the play (294). Unni Langås also wrote an essay on Ibsen’s drama and about Nora’s specific motives. He wrote, “When she performs acts that are generally reserved for men, or withdraws from practices associated with women, she shows the gender attribution of these acts to be social constructions and thereby contests their reified status” (157). So, Langås claims that Nora’s “rebellion” and discontent began long before she literally walked out on Trovald, her husband. The events that eventually unfolded at the end of the play and that lead her to finally leave her husband were just those last straws that broke the camel’s back. Before her final stage exit, Ibsen has Nora say, “For eight years I have been patiently waiting,” enforcing this idea of long-lived frustration (3.1107). Again, this idea of the “rebellious woman” at the end of the nineteenth century was not only reserved to post-Civil War America as was the case with Emily Grierson. Nora Helmer and her insurgence, against all ethical and moral norms of society at the time, did not go unnoticed in Northern Europe. According to Marilyn Yalom, “The idea that a respectable woman should renounce her role as wife and mother, leave her husband and children, and strike out on her own was seen
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