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English 1020 April 1 2000 On the Other Side of the Slammed Door in A Doll House Nora Helmers decision to leave her family in Henrik Helmerss 1879 play A Doll House reflects the dilemma faced by many nineteenth-century women who were forced either to conform to highly restrictive gender roles or to abandon these roles in order to realize their value as individuals Although Ibsen brings his audience to the moment that Nora chooses to disregard her social role and opt for her freedom his play does not clearly reveal the true fate of women who followed Noras path in the nineteenth century Historically most women who chose not to acquiesce to the socially prescribed roles of marriage were treated as unnatural creatures and shunned by the respectable public An actual letter written in 1844 by Marcus to his estranged wife Ulrike reveals the effects of this severe social condemnation His letter implies desperate fate that inevitably befalls women who reject their prescribed duties as wives and mothers Through Marcuss latter to his wife the painful ramifications of Noras decision to accommodate her own personal desires instead of those of her family become even more poignant courageous and tragic In the nineteenth century women had few alternatives to marriage and the women who failed at marriage were thought to have failed in their most important duty In his letter Marcus articulates societys deep disgust for women who reject what it believes is the sacred female role of homemaker His letter while on one level an angry condemnation of his wifes stubbornness and a cruelly condescending list of conditions to be met on her return is on another level a plea for her to accept again the role that society has assigned her He is clearly shaken by his wifes abandonment and interprets it as a betrayal of social law or tradition which to Marcuss mind ought to be carved in stone He responds
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