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Women in both the past and the present, and maybe even in the future, lived a life under unfair conditions. These conditions were decided on by men. To further explain the depth of these conditions, I am going to analyze the following stories: “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “Barbie Doll” by Marge Piercy, and “A Doll House” by Henrik Ibsen. These stories all showed the truth and similarities of the societies in the past and present. Women lived through lives where they were expected to be submissive to men and because of such conditions, women learned to empower themselves so that they can have some type of control over their own lives.

In the first story that I am going to be discussing, we learn that women are not aware that they are inferior to men. In “The Story of an Hour,” Kate Chopin introduces the story of Mrs. Mallard’s husband’s death. She took her husband’s death lighter than many would have expected. As time passes by, Mrs. Mallard starts to realize that she finally has freedom as she whispered to herself “Free, free, free!” (Chopin 570). She was no longer living as Mr. Mallard’s wife but instead as Louise. This story took place when a woman from the 19th century barely had any freedom, which tells us that Mrs. Mallard was confined under her husband. During the 19th century, men were expected to live a social public life while women were expected to live the majority of their lives at home, taking care of the cooking, cleaning, and babysitting. Chopin showed expressions that, women during that time subconsciously wished that their husbands died. Mrs. Mallard did not know that her husband dying would give her such joy and happiness. Dreaming about how the future is coming to be the best days of her life, “Spring days, and summer days, all sorts of days that would be her own” (Chopin 570).

Because women are so unaware of such conditions in their houses, they tend to learn to be with themselves instead of interacting with other people. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Charlotte Perkins Gilman describes the narrator as a very expressive woman. Where she complains about how her husband, John, treats her on a daily basis. He tries to prevent her from using her imagination in any way possible, thus making the narrator look at objects around the house and the wallpaper to try and distract herself from her frustration. As time goes on, the narrator sees an inner self of her within the wallpaper. She identifies herself as the woman who is trapped in the wallpaper. In different words, she sees herself as her husband’s slave in a way. Trapped in John’s own world. John never really cared or listened to what she had to say “He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him” “(Gilman 573). Women during this era were looked down on as they were hardly recognized. They were always below men in terms of power, wealth, and many sorts of things.

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Not only are women devalued with their qualities, society, itself, can play the role of a man by pressuring them to look a certain way. In “Barbie Doll”, Marge Piercy precisely explains today’s society on how people view women. We have turned into the “social media era” where women post pictures about themselves and how good they look. But in order to do that, Marge explains that they have to “exercise, diet, smile, and wheedle” to look “perfect” and pressured to fit the image that society has created. (Piercy 11). The woman that was mentioned in the poem had a “great big nose and fat legs” so in order for her to look “perfect”, she cut both of them (Piercy 6). In different words, she had surgery to remove them and make them look “perfect”. This has put pressure on women that they have to look good in front of everyone. This has caused insecurities, depression, and many other mental issues that it has created for women. This includes having to put make-up on, cosmetics, fillers, and even edits on social media. It puts pressure on women that they have to instead of wanting to. Societies’ expectations destroyed women’s confidence as a whole and made them insecure about how they looked. They start to worry about how people perceive them and it has distracted them from doing other things.

Though society and men may bestow negative vibes on women, if women are motivated by a stable drive, they can gather up and stand up against men. In A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen, Ibsen uses Nora to show that if a woman genuinely feels compassionate towards a person, they will put themselves on the line in order to save a man. Nora’s life with her husband, Torvald, is very close. By this, I mean they are not open with each other and also, they are not themselves when they are with one another. Nora is conditioned to have the image of his husband as a man whose “duty… (is) not to indulge in whims and fancies” (I). They are so opposite because Nora just cares about spending time with her immediate family, however, Torvald always wants to save, be practical and protect his image. This shows that Torvald will always choose practicality over his own wife’s happiness. Progressing on the story, when Torvald’s image was put on the line when the blackmail from Krogstad arrived in the mail, he is furious with Nora and could not keep his calm. However, when Krogstad returns the forged letter immediately, Torvald suddenly is calm and understands Nora’s reasoning by agreeing that Nora’s doing was “out of love” (III). This shows that on good days, men will treat the woman nicely, but when they are aggravated, they will forget who the woman is to them and act as they please.

In conclusion, the majority of the time, women don’t realize how submissive they are to men until they are trying to do something they personally want and the men inhibit them from doing so. Personally, I think that it was not fair for women to live under such conditions and to have men manage what is available to them and what is not. Women should be able to decide for themselves and lead their own lives because, like men, they are all humans. Both men and women, need air to breathe, and water to live, so what makes women so different from men?

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