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How do "The Story of an Hour" and A Doll's House relate on the concept of feminism?

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futurehorsevet | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 11, 2012 at 3:25 AM via web

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How do "The Story of an Hour" and A Doll's House relate on the concept of feminism?

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cetaylorplfd | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 23, 2013 at 10:50 PM (Answer #1)

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Both "The Story of an Hour" and A Doll's House were published before women in the United States and Norway, the respective settings of each work, won suffrage.  As a result, gender roles were heavily presribed, and these gender roles are addressed in both the story and the play.  In both texts, the protagonists Louise Mallard and Nora Helmer have identities that are outwardly defined by their lives with their husbands.  In "The Story of an Hour," Louise retreats to her bedroom after hearing the news of her husband's apparent death; and although others think she is grieving, she is sitting at the window contemplating the new freedom that her widowhood will bring.  Although not directly stated, the reader assumes that Louise has on several occasions sat by the window dreaming about this type of freedom--the armchair is already facing the window when she enters the room.  

Similarly, in A Doll's House, Nora is Torvald's "doll" wife, and she dresses and behaves in a manner that puts her in a subservient position to Torvald.  He believes that she has no idea about the real world and that he must be there to take care of her.  Both Louise and Nora are restricted from positing their true identities, and as Nora says near the end of the play, she questions whether or not she even knows who she really is because for so long she has been required to act in a role defined by first her father and then by Torvald.  

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