Breaking out of the Shell

     There comes a time in a woman's life where she must break out of her shell and become her own person. This fact of life is displayed through many plays, novels, and films, such as A Doll's House, Washington Square, The Heiress, and Shag.

     In A Doll's House, written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879, and the film version, directed by Patrick Garland in 1973, the wife, Nora, breaks out of her shell. Nora, played by Claire Bloom, faces the time in her life when she realizes she has been treated like a doll for her entire life. She makes reference to the fact that her father had treated her as a doll; and then her husband Torvald, depicted by Anthony Hopkins, has done the same. It is constantly show time for her. She dresses up and dances about for her husband as if she is putting on a show everyday. Taking care of the children and the house are her only responsibilities, and he acts as if she does not have enough brains to take care of those. He holds money over her head and makes her dance for it like a puppy. The whole movie is a repulsive display of the way women behave for men. However, in the end she sees the way she has been treated all her life; and she stands up for herself. She tells Torvald what a sham her entire life has been and goes to make her own.

     Catherine in Henry James's 1880 Washington Square and its cinematic counterpart, William Wyler's 1949 The Heiress, stands up for herself in the end and makes her own as well. She refuses the man who had previously jilted her, Morris Townsend (acted on screen by Montgomery Clift) when he comes back for her and shows him that she will not let him control her actions any longer.

     In another movie named Shag, directed by Zelda Barron in 1989, Carson, played by Phoebe Cates, is arranged to be married to a controlling prude named Harley, portrayed by Tyrone Power, Jr. Her friends take her to Myrtle Beach for Spring Break as her last fling before marriage. She spends the first part of the trip in fear of disappointing her fiancé, but in the end she decides to live for herself. By the end of the movie, she has decided to do what she wants to do and what will made her happy.

     All of these literary works and movies show how women come to a point in their lives when they must break out of their shell and stand up for themselves. The three women in these works and movies do it with style and grace as well. They are an example to all women who come to the point in their lives.

Allison Groner

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