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Hidden Self Essay

1282 words - 6 pages

Hidden Self

The role of a women, whether in the nineteenth century or even in the present day, is commonly defined as a wife and a mother. A Doll’s House written by Henrik Ibsen captures Nora Helmer whose husband treats her like a child. The Yellow Wallpaper written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman represents a woman who undergoes the rest cure for a nervous depression. Similarly, both characters represent their societal expectations based on gender. Eventually, Nora Helmer is freed from the role of a wife and mother after her secret comes out. Unlike Nora Helmer, Gilman’s unnamed narrator loses her mind.
In both works the women keep secrets, which represent their hidden identity, ...view middle of the document...

“Many a time I was so desperately tired; but all the same it was a tremendous pleasure to sit there working and earning money. It was like being a man” (Ibsen 433). As Nora tries to earn her own way to pay back the loan, a feeling of power comes over her. As she compares herself to a man, she begins to realize that she likes the feeling. Controlling her own life behind her husband’s back allows Nora to have an understanding of responsibility. While Nora keeps secrets from her husband, the unnamed woman in The Yellow Wallpaper also keeps secrets.
The narrator responds to the rest cure where she is put away into a room by herself. . Her husband treats her as a patient instead of a wife. “I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more” (Gilman730). With her husband being a doctor, he put her on a lot of medicine so she would not think. While he is away playing doctor with his other patients, Jennie is keeping an eye on her. At her husband’s request as part of her treatment, no thinking is allowed. All of her writings in her journal must be hidden from her husband and Jennie. She writes about the room where she stays and describes it as a children’s room with barred windows and how it is the worst wallpaper she had ever seen: “The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow turned sunlight. It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others” (Gilman 730). She illustrates a picture in the reader’s head. Her life is beginning to revolve around this room and the wallpaper. Writing is her only escape and is her only way of coping with her sickness since nobody else will listen to her. Both women keep secrets, while Nora is able to put her past behind her, Gilman’s narrator is stuck in her situation.
Through time Nora begins to find herself, but this horrible secret about the money has a hold of her. She knows that when the secret is out, her only option is to leave her home at once. So when the threats are made from the man she barrowed the money from, she awaits the moment for Torvald to open the letter.
Exactly as before, I was your little skylark, your doll, which you would in future treat doubly gentle care, because it was so brittle and fragile. Torvald, it was then it dawned upon me that for eight years I had been living here...

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