- Ibsen’s women. Illustrate your essay with specific examples.
Ibsen’s women. Illustrate your essay with specific examples.
Ibsen was a champion of social criticism, particularly concerned
about the 'imprisoned souls.' Concerns of women have been the
concerns of his major works, A Dolls's House (1879), Pillars of
society (1877) Ghosts and Hedda Gabbler. Generally speaking the
main criticism in Ibsen's plays are directed against the vanities
of contemporary living and especially of life which was lived in
the north of Europe, which put obstacles in the way of free and
unencumbered self-realization. The hypocrisies of economy, the dead
hand of convention, the compulsion to do the done thing, the fear
of what the people will think, the bigotries of the
institutionalised religion and all those related factors which,
under the guise of duty or royalty or moral obligation, stunt the
personality and inhibit a natural development in the individual,
and shut him off from genuine living. (J.W. Macfarlane, 1975) In
Ibsen's above mentioned plays or to be precise from Brand (1865)
onwards there occurs a deeper pre-occupation about freedom. Ibsen
repeatedly insisted that freedom was essentially a matter of
individual decision and individual responsibility, something
personal which was striven for without ever being fully realizable.
Much of the fabric of the contemporary society he saw constituted
of out dated attitudes and opinions, something that was now quite
inappropriate for the new individual. It caught him up in a mesh of
prescriptive duties; it saddled him with an intolerable burden of
incumbencies largely obsolescent. It coerced him and bemused him
into a belief that suffering and joylessness were necessarily
predominant in good life. Above all Ibsen was anxious to revise
current thinking about what one owed to oneself. He noted the
tendency to suppose that any concern for one's own self was rather
one of the supreme duties.
Voice of women
A Dolls's House (1879), Pillars of society (1877) and Ghosts
(1881) portrays a process of emancipation by ordeal. All the main
characters, Nora, Bernick and Mrs. Alving are on the process of a
transformation from a primitive form of personal integrity to a
more advanced and enlightened one.
Ibsen's positive values are his strong women. The main
antagonists to be faced and fought in his plays are convention,
hypocrisy, sexual passion, marriages of expedience, a corrupt press
and vested interests; and hardest of all, the past, either of
society or of oneself, which may involve guilt and hamper freedom.
Ibsen examines all these elements in a philosophical plane, and
that's how the feminist identities are suffixed to it.
Ibsen's craft is so beautiful that he chooses 'home' and its
domestic aspects to discuss his topic of interest. Ibsen shows
these women in the context of their own home. Here home is seen as
an 'institution that tends to inhibit the development of the
authentic self.' So marriage becomes a microcosm of the prevailing
male-dominated society at large, in which as the preliminary notes
to Doll's House put it - 'a woman cannot be herself…It is an
exclusively male society with laws drafted by men, and with counsel
and judges who judge feminine conduct from the male point of view.'
(Tennant, 1948) Thus Ibsen's female characters' faith in authority
and in male domination most often clashes with their natural
instincts and it is very largely this that makes most of his drama.
Ibsen thus builds up his case against 'home' as the source of
bigotry and hypocrisy and the epicentre of all the affection and
possessiveness. From there begins the frustrations that is waged
outside as war against the sexes.