This study will involve a theme analysis of three literary pieces. In essence, it will cover the thematic perspectives of “I’m still here”, “a story of an hour” and “a doll house”. These are three literary pieces with distinct genres and contents. The meaning portrayed in these three literary works will therefore be the basis of this study when all the existing aspects of the works are taken into account. The human aspects of these analyses will also be at the epicenter of the study because it will conceptualize the entire thematic experience of the three literature pieces.
However, this study is not directed towards establishing the moral of the works and neither does it explore the subject of the story. The study does not also try to identify the construed meanings behind the three pieces of literature.
The story of an hour is the first literary piece and revolves around the life in an hour of Mrs. Millard who is the main character in the story. She hails from a heart condition. She is confronted with some bad news that her husband was involved in a fatal road accident and didn’t make it (DiYanni, 2007, p. 38). Josephine and Richard who is both her husband’s friend break the news to her in a gentle manner, considering her delicate heart condition. Ironically, Mrs. Millard is not shocked about the news and instead embraces it with excitement. This, as was later understood was a sigh of relief from the kind of life she lived before her husband passed on (DiYanni, 2007). She is excited because of the fact that she does not have to answer to anyone now but herself.
A doll house revolves around the life of Nora Helemer who is the lead character. She begins to question the direction her life took when her marriage is put to the test. She takes money from her father in form of a loan to help her husband get treatment. This event is followed by unprecedented intrigues. Her husband is thereby promoted to a senior managerial position at a bank and Nora thinks this is the end of her problems (with regard to loan repayments).
However, Krogstad approaches and informs her that his position is set to be given to someone else. He then threatens to expose Nora’s secret if she doesn’t persuade her husband to maintain his position at the bank. Her efforts were however futile. Meanwhile, Nora flirts with another guy by the name Dr. Rank. Krogstad informs Nora that he had a change of mind and won’t reveal her secret to the public but instead opts to write a letter to her husband to help him rehabilitate while he maintains his position at the bank. Nora is against this idea. Anyway as the story progresses, Nora’s husband forgives her and is even more attracted to her because she tried to protect him in this whole ordeal. However, Nora lets her husband know that she is leaving him. Her husband tries to prevent her from doing so but she does it anyway (DiYanni, 2007, p.38)
I’m still here is a literary piece that revolves around the civil rights movements that happened in the early 1960s. The author uses this literary piece as a platform to enlighten both white and African Americans on the importance of racial equality. It also gives an insight into human rights violations that afflicted the African American population. This piece therefore makes us better understand the racial inequalities and inhuman experiences that surrounded the civil rights movement era (DiYanni, 2007, p. 1014).
Female Self Discovery and Identity
The theme of female self discovery and identity is clearly brought out in the analysis of Chopin’s character in a story of an hour. When Mrs. Mallard learns of her husband’s demise, she gets engrossed in grief but after short moment, she is overcome by relief and the feeling of independence sums her. In other words, she celebrates her own identity as a woman and is glad that she doesn’t have to answer to any person (DiYanni, 2007, p. 38).
In the same regard, a doll house also professes the female identity theme especially in the analysis of Nora. At the end of the story, Nora leaves the husband and gains her own independence. She identifies that she owes it to herself to leave her husband because he didn’t love her anymore. She also questioned her life under her father and husband. These are two figures that have been very prominent in her life and have in the past controlled her life in one way or the other. For example, she forged her father’s signature to obtain money so that she could help her husband get the necessary medical care he needed. She actually gets herself in trouble because this scheme was bound to ruin her life. Her trials in the entire story revolve around the intrigues centered on her husband and father. However, at the need of the piece, she liberates herself by leaving her husband. She then enhances this theme of female identification because she goes on to live her own life (DiYanni, 2007. p. 1666).
A story of an hour eminently expresses the theme of oppression especially in the analysis of the roles of women. In the 19th century, the world was different, especially in the analysis of the roles of women, because during that time, women were expected to stay at home cook, keep the house clean, bear children, and maintain the role of child bearing. Despite the efforts of most gender activists such as Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B, women never got out of the oppressive 19th century retrogressive tendencies. For the example, the right of women to vote had not been established by the close of the century. In addition, employers employed women to work for medieval jobs and failed to remunerate them the same way they would, the men for the same jobs. In the analysis of a story of an hour, Mrs. Mallard was evidently under the husband’s oppression as explained above because of her relief after his death (DiYanni, 2007, p. 38).
In a doll’s house, the author brings out a very bleak picture of the sacrificial nature of women especially in their roles in the society. This has happened at all economic stratification levels of the society. The play’s character manifestation of females exemplify the assertions properly evidenced by Nora especially in chapter three which observes that regardless of whether men fail to sacrifice their integrity for the betterment of the society, women always have (DiYanni, 2007, p. 1666).
Due to the nature of an oppressive society and the sacrifices women have to make, Mrs. Linde had no choice but to abandon Frogstad and marry a richer man in order to support her mother and her two brothers. Moreover, the nanny in the story also had to abandon her child in order to support herself when she took the job of working for Nora’s caretaker. In fact she thanks Nora for the job because she admits she was a pauper who had always lacked direction. However, despite the fact that Nora is economically stable, she still experiences a lot of challenges in her marriage as compared to other female characters in the story. This has been evidenced because of the way society has perpetrated male dominance in the society pitting her, a subordinate to her husband (DiYanni, 2007).
As the plot progresses, it is evident that Nora’s husband issues decrees and condescends them to Nora which then makes Nora hide the fact that she took the loan to help her husband. She does this because she was aware of the fact that her husband could not accept the fact that her wife financed his health care. Furthermore, Nora had to effectively work to conceal the loan repayments because she could have got into trouble if it was discovered that she took a loan without the consent of her husband. This therefore leaves Nora vulnerable to Krogstad’s blackmail. Nora also makes a lot of sacrifices by leaving her children behind, despite the fact that she loved them a lot. She does this because of the fact that she couldn’t accept to pollute the minds of her children by the undertakings that went on around her. Ultimately, she leaves her children in the hands of the nanny.
In the analysis of the poem I’m still here, there is a clear theme of oppression because it tries to date back to the slavery period when the African Americans were oppressed. The poem goes on to say that the subject of the poem had been waiting on his target but in the meantime, the snow had been falling on him and the sun was baking him. This was a clear depiction of oppression by his target and he was trying to get out of it. The poem also portrays the subject as under some form of oppression because he says that the enemy had tried to make him stop laughing and loving. However, he kept on having a good time in disregard of his master (DiYanni, 2007, p. 1014). This is a state whereby the master was preventing the subject from being happy or enjoying human rights such as the right to associate (love).
The title of the poem; “I’m still here” is carefully coined to show that despite the afflictions and oppressions one may get, its important to forge on and never give up., It also tries to portray oppression in general terms; like it is part of life and we should all be prepared for it. The poem also portrays the subject as having undergone a lot of life struggles which are represented by the “sun” and “snow” (DiYanni, 2007, p. 1014).
In a story of an hour, Louis Mallard passes off as a woman who had a weak will. More often than not, she repressed her desire to define her own destiny. This was consequently more evidenced in her marriage whereby she suffered a lot of stress under her husband. She felt like a subject to her husband all along and her relief when her husband died was a clear attestation to the depth of the matter (DiYanni, 2007, p. 38).
In the first sentence of the story, her heart condition is discussed. Some literary critics have observed that her heart condition may be a result of the repressive marriage she was living in. As the story progresses, the reader is strongly under the impression that her inferior status in the society and the strong male dominance on her life was also a contributor to her heart condition and the resultant life of less-than-ideal marriage. For instance, in the 8th paragraph of the analogy, Chopin notes that the face of the young woman “bespoke repression” (DiYanni, 2007). Further into the fourteenth paragraph, it is observed that an unknown strong will was arm-twisting the wishes of Mrs. Mallard (DiYanni, 2007, p. 38).
Parental and Filial duties
Parenthood is viewed as coming from a basis of moral ground and honesty especially from the point of view of Dr. Dank, Torvald and Nora in a doll house. This is especially true because parenthood was perceived as a disease that was to be passed from generations to generations. Dr. Rank’s father depravity is a true attestation to this phenomenon because Dr. Rank shows symptoms of a disease that comes out of this relation. This is explained from the reckless sexual debacles Dr. Rank’s father had with random women, which he passed on to his son, later causing him to contract a venereal disease. Torevald also asserts that the deeds of one’s parents are definitely bound to affect the morals of the descendants. He was speaking to Nora. He also asserts that nearly all young criminals had either cohabited or were raised by a lying parent. He also went on to bar his wife Nora from interacting with their children after learning of her deceitful behaviors because of the fear that she would corrupt their minds (DiYanni, 2007, p. 1666).
However, the story also identifies that young children are also too preoccupied to protect their parents. Nora is better placed to evidence this fact because she chose to protect her husband at the expense of her father by taking a loan to cover his medical needs. The author therefore tries to bring out the personal responsibilities parents and children have with respect to family obligations (DiYanni, 2007).
The Misguided Nature of Appearances
In the analysis of a doll house, appearances seem to be misleading on the characters of the actors and the different situations that are analyzed. Undercut impressions are evidenced when it comes to the analysis if Nora, her husband, and Krogstad. Nora easily passes off as a silly and childish woman at the start but as the story concludes, she passes off as a strong-willed, intelligent woman (DiYanni, 2007, p. 1666).
Torvald who passes of as a strong, independent and benevolent man turns out to be cowardly, petty and selfish because he lives under the fear of being exposed by Krogstad. Krogstad also passes off as a sympathetic and merciful character though later in the analysis, he turns out to be a lesser of the above. The end of the story actually turns out to be a whole identity issue because character identification among specific key characters turns out to be the opposite of initial expectations (DiYanni, 2007).
Nevertheless, situations also appear misrepresented by both the readers and the characters alike. Mrs. Linde and Krogstad turn out to be enemies at first but upon development of the plot, they turn out to be friends. Krogstad also turns out to be Nora’s creditor but then again, it turns out that he isn’t. This is a misreading by the readers as well as Mrs. Linde. Krogstad who seemingly passed off as strong-willed traitor later returns Nora’s contract. Mrs. Linde who also seemed very kind-hearted fails to help Nora and facilitates the revelation of her secret. The eminent instability in the Helmer household when the story concludes is partially brought about by Torvald’s craving for an image that is attained at the expense of happiness. It is quite evident that image is quite important on his part especially from his friends, employees and his wife. Any form of disrespect that is directed towards him such as his wife calling him petty or when Krogstad called him by his first name is not taken kindly by him. At the end of the story we see that Torvald’s obsession with image finally breaking down his family (DiYanni, 2007).
I’m still here also has instances where there is a misguided sense of appearance. When the author says that the snow has frozen him and the sun has baked him, he portrays some form of hidden meaning that doesn’t necessarily mean extreme situations as most people would think. The hidden meaning is however open to interpretation though most analysts have observed that it means that the hopes for freedom had been quashed (DiYanni, 2007, p. 1014).
The themes of oppression, parental and filial duties, appearances, female identification and repression have been extensively used in all the three pieces of literature. These thematic subjects have been majorly used to pass a certain message. For example, in female identification, these literary pieces are somehow used to empower women at some level. It is one thing, practically limiting the rights and freedoms of women but it is also another thing liberating them in literary works. This is what most authors, who have used this theme, try to pass across.
Some themes have also been used to educate us on past happenings and enlighten us on various social issues that still plague the society to date. The theme of oppression has been used to show how archaic laws were used to oppress women in the past, especially during the 19th century. The same also regards oppression during slavery in I’m still here. In essence, we get to learn of the happenings in that century but also at the same time, we are enlightened about social issues like gender equality that still plagues the society in the 21st century. Themes have therefore been used tactfully to enlighten the society as regards past and current issues. Themes therefore play a distinct role in literary pieces depending on the messages it intends to pass on to the audiences.