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Starrleena Magyck

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Three Women React
By Starrleena Magyck   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, February 22, 2010
Posted: Monday, February 22, 2010

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Literary review of Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll House", Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour", and William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily.

                VALERIE L. HARVEY
                ENG. 125:  LITERATURE
                PROF. CHRISTINE HILGER
                JANUARY 11, 2010

People react differently to secrets when they finally come out; especially when
they are in a relationship and they try to keep it from their spouse or significant
other.  Many of us have been face with the decision of whether or not to tell some
secret, or try to live with it.  When the secret finally does happen to surface, then
we are faced with what to do and how to handle it.  We all do what we feel is right
at the time; but no matter what decision we make, we still have to live with the
decision we made, no matter how difficult it is.
    In the story, “A Doll’s House”, by Henrik Ibsen, we have Nora living with a secret
and trying not to let her husband, Torvald Helmer know.  She is so distraught, that she
tells a friend, the same friend who hired her in place of another employee.  That same
employee is hurt and blackmails Nora about what she did.  Nora does everything she
can to plead with Krogstad not to tell Torvald, but in the end, he finds out.  Nora’s secret
is that she borrowed money from a banker and Krogstad, who works for Nora’s husband
Torvald, finds out and blackmails Nora in order from losing his job to her friend, Mrs.
Linde.  When Nora’s husband finds out, she makes the decision to leave her husband
and her children behind and go off alone.
    In the story, “A Rose for Emily”, by William Faulkner, Emily is a older lady with a
secret which the town finds out after her death.  Emily has had a different set of values
that weren’t shared by her father, Colonel Sartoris.  The townspeople appeared to be a
little standoffish, especially the women.  Emily had a relationship with Homer, whose
body was found in the attic after Emily’s death and a gray hair next to his corpse.  Emily
seemed to be a little lonely, so lonely, that she hid her lover’s corpse in the attic.  The
townspeople were shocked by what they found.
    In the story, “The Story of an Hour”, by Kate Chopin, Mrs. Mallard learns of her
husband’s death from her sister Josephine.  She is so distraught with the news, that she
retreats to her bedroom to be alone.  While in her room, she goes through several
emotions:  first, she is exhausted and allows herself to relax, then, she gets depressed
by the news of her husband’s death, and finally, she is relieved and finally able to relax.  
By the time her sister is able to see her, Mrs. Mallard is dead of heart disease.  
Josephine is sad to find out that she is too late to help her sister.
    In all three of these stories, all three women appear to go through changes.  Nora
goes from a woman controlled by her husband to a woman who finally decides that she
can be an independent woman.  She decides to abandon her family and move on by
herself to start a new life for herself.
    Emily goes through several transformations too.  She first lived her life to please
others, especially her father.  Later in her life, she becomes standoffish from her father
and the townspeople, except for her butler.  After she meets Homer, she decides that
she doesn’t care what others think of her and decides to keep Homer a secret, even
hiding his corpse in the attic.
    Mrs. Mallard appears to be woman who is somehow controlled by her husband.  
After news of his death, she at first appears to be saddened, almost tired, so she
retreats to her room.  After reflecting from the news, she realizes that she is finally free
from this controlling, almost manipulative man that she was married to.  When Mrs.
Mallard is found dead in her room by her sister, a look of joy, or relief is seen in her
    These three stories depict three women who carry a lot of emotion from the
beginning to the end of the story.  They all react to a time when women in their day
should not act in the way that they reacted.  The carry the stigma that women is to be
obedient to their husbands, or their father if they were unmarried.  Nora, Emily, and Mrs.
Mallard reacted to their separate situations in a rational, but independent choice; even if
society seemed to disapprove of the way they lived their lives.
    Society didn’t always think that women in their day should act independently.  
These three women acted so far from the norm, that the townspeople where put off by
them.  The townspeople tried to persuade these women into acting the way that they
should.  But each one refused to give into the norm and did what they thought was right.
    Now days, the way women are perceived is a lot different from women in their
day.  Women are allowed to be independent, make their own choices, hold off having a
family so they can get a career first.  Back in Nora, Emily, and Mrs. Mallard’s day,
women were  expected to abide by their husbands’ rules and live in the family home
and tend to the family.  These three stories changed the way society looked at women.

Literature:  Reading, Reacting, and Writing, 6th Ed.  Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R.  
Mandell.  Thomson Wadsworth, Thomson Corporation, “The Story of an Hour,
Kate Chopin, pp. 193-195; “A Rose for Emily”, William Faulkner, pp. 205-214; “A
Doll’s House,” Henrik Ibsen, pp. 1121-1176.

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