Out of Plato’s Cave

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When Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” first emerged in 1879, there was an offensive attitude towards women who defied the social codes of society and resisted male dominance. Women were expected to be obedient, submissive, and good wives and/or mothers. However, there was a need to break those codes because of social and technological progress, which saw women taking on what were traditionally considered men’s jobs, especially during WWI. New perspectives appeared that regarded women as equal to men and having the same rights. This led to calls to change the status of women in society, especially after World War I and II. One of the great literary voices in the early twentieth century was Susan Glaspell, who presented the image of oppressed women in her plays. In “The Verge,” she presents a woman who is unable to fit in the normative gender roles of American society at that time. Claire, the main character, seeks to break from the prison of old values. She defies patriarchal dominance and tends to be destructive as a result of the pressure of family and friends. The conflict she lives in pushes her to the edge of her sanity. The article aims to discuss the main female characters in this play in relation to the social factors that led to the emergence of the New Woman in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.