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Nora Helmer and Women in American Literature

Uploaded by jamira21 on Oct 29, 2000

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 bought...new 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 rewarded for their pains" (Cooke 472). A marriage, in the opinion of Mrs. Celia, calls for a woman to...

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Uploaded by:   jamira21

Date:   10/29/2000

Category:   A Doll's House

Length:   9 pages (1,914 words)

Views:   3269

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