English Composition II, Section 09
Women’s Role in Society in the 1800’s
Women in the 1800’s were often not taken as seriously as their male counterparts were. Women were limited by pre-existing societal boundaries that had been put in place many years before they were born. This is prevalent in both “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen and in “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell. In these works, the women are expected to act and behave in certain ways based on how society thinks they should and the men openly express their opinions on what the women are worried with and what they should be doing.
Women in this time period were expected to do things in a certain ...view middle of the document...
Ibsen may have thrown this piece of dialogue in to show how women, even in the 1800’s, longed to be more independent and not have to rely on a man for everything.
Just as Nora had to play her role as mother and wife in her home, the women in “A Jury of Her Peers” played their own roles in the investigation. The men who went to Mrs. Wright’s home to gather evidence of her husband’s murder brought the two women with them simply to gather Mrs. Wright’s belongings. “She was to take in some clothes for her, you know--- and a few little things,” (Glaspell 164). They didn’t think that their wives would be much of help in the investigation because of the fact that they are women. These women, like Nora also had to listen to what their husbands would say to them. Mrs. Peter’s and Mrs. Hale both complied with everything the men had instructed. “Martha! Don’t keep folks out here waiting in the cold,” (Glaspell 157). Mrs. Hale’s husband demanded that she dropped what she was doing and left immediately and she listened because what a man said went in those days.
Both stories also show how the men didn’t think their wive’s opinions on important matters held much weight. The men also seemed to believe themselves to be smarter or better than their counterparts and it is shown throughout both works. Torvald would often refer to Nora as his “little squirrel” or a “little featherhead”. Mr. Helmer always seemed to look down on his wife in matters and always referred to her as a little person. This indicates that he thought of himself as larger or more important just because he is a man and she is a woman. Nora mentions in her and Torvald’s final conversation before she left that he never talked to her about any
important matters in his life. Rather, he would just ask her to look pretty and do what he told her to do mostly. “We have been married now eight years. Does it not occur to you that his is the first time we two, you and I, husband and wife, have had a serious conversation? (Ibsen 278). Nora goes on to say also, “In all these eight years~~ longer than that~~ from the very beginning of our acquaintance, we have never exchanged a word on any serious subject,” (Ibsen 278). This shows that even though they have been together for so long, Torvald never cared to speak with his wife about anything serious because he didn’t believe her...