What are some similarities between Nora in A Doll's House, and the narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that there can be a couple of similarities between both female protagonists.  This would be the first one in that both of them are victims to a social setting that does not validate the rights and narratives of women.  This setting impacts them tremendously, for their experiences are contrary to the socially constricting vision of what it means to be a woman.  The narrator is convinced that her condition is more than "just nerves," while Nora really wishes to be treated as an equal partner and not as an ornament.  Another similarity would be that this social definition creates partnerships with husbands that are not entirely effective.  Torvald is sad in how limited he is from an emotional point of view.  He is simply unable to recognize that his wife is in need of validation.  When she leaves him, he is almost pathetic in how he recognizes too late that his wife has crossed a frontier from which she cannot be emotionally reclaimed.  The narrator's husband simply does not understand that his wife might be enduring something larger than a dismissive need of "bed rest."  When he sees her at the end in a horrifying dance of ripping down the wallpaper, his uselessness is evident when he collapses and she dances over his body.  In the end, both women experience what it is to have a useless or emotionally ineffective husband.  Finally, the writers of each narrative end it with the women protagonists going out on their own.  Simply put, the only way that these women will find validation will be in existing away from their husbands and their domestic realms.  Nora leaves and the narrator dances.  Both of them cut themselves off from the setting that cripples them and that seeks to silence their voices.  This might be a statement both works are making about what women must do in order to find and, in some cases, reclaim their voices.

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