Nora Helmer and Women in American Literature

2063 Words Oct 21st, 1999 9 Pages
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.
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<br>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
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Miss Lawrence, you don 't know men" (Gilman 511). Mr. Beazley also tells Mrs. Beazley "what do you women know about business, anyway! You just tell him you 're perfectly willing and under no compulsion, and sign the paper...," which reiterates the fact that men dominated most economic issues (Gilman506).
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<br>Society 's general attitude towards a woman was that her place in society was to be controlled or dominated by a male figure. It was thought that someone had to be on top and the men were the ones called to this leadership. Men felt that it was their duty and obligation to be socially dominating over women.
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<br>In A Doll House Torvald is very dominating over his wife, Nora. He controlled her as if she were his own personal property; Nora had to dress a certain way to satisfy her husband, and she also is forbidden by Torvald to eat macaroons. As he shakes his finger at her, Torvald asks, "My sweet tooth really didn 't make a little detour through the confectioner 's" (Ibsen 785).
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<br>It is implied that in Elizabeth Stuart Phelp 's "The Angel Over the Right Shoulder," the wife is also somewhat controlled by her husband. Mrs. James complains that because of her overload of domestic responsibilities, she never has any free time to herself. Mr. James, her husband, then replies, "...make up your mind to let the work which is not done, go undone, if it must. Spend this time on just those things which will be most profitable to yourself. I shall bind
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