Repressed Women in Literature

2029 Words May 11th, 2008 9 Pages
Repressed Women in Literature
While the women of the short story “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, and the drama A Dollhouse by Henrik Ibsen lead very different lives, they are similar in one very obvious way. Both women feel trapped by their husbands and by the expectations society places on them. The repression of Louise and Nora is inflicted upon them by both self and society; how does one remain an individual while also conforming to the traditional female role mandated by society?
Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” is a short story about a woman with a heart condition named Louise Mallard, who after hearing the news of her husband’s death, retreats to her bedroom to celebrate her freedom from his “…powerful will bending hers with
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Once Torvald found out about her deceit and did not make a gallant effort to save her from it, she decided to stop acting like his plaything. It is at this point that she exerts her independence from the male patriarchy by stating; “I existed merely to perform tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it so. You and Papa have committed a great sin against me. It is your fault that I have made nothing of my life (Ibsen).”
While there are many symbols throughout both texts which physically represent repression the most poignant in either story is the mailbox in “A Dollhouse.” The mailbox, to which Torvald holds the only key, literally holds Nora’s fate within it. Because Nils Krogstad put Nora’s loan note in the mailbox, Torvald would be the only person who had access to it, just as he was the only person who had access to Nora. According to Roberts and Jacobs in “Literature An Introduction to Reading and Writing” “…the ultimate disclosure of the box’s contents, rather than freeing Nora and Torvald, symbolizes her traditionally dependent role” (1871). The mailbox could also hold some sort of sexual symbolism. Torvald is the only person with the key to the mailbox, just as he assumes control over Nora by having complete and exclusive access to her. He is the only one to enter the mailbox, just as he is the only one to make love to his pretty wife. Another significant symbol in A Dollhouse is the title itself. Nora feels
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