A Comparitive Study of Potrayal of Women in Henrik Ibsen’s a Doll’s House and August Strindberg’s Miss Julie

Topics: Henrik Ibsen, Sociology, Søren Kierkegaard Pages: 10 (3969 words) Published: December 19, 2012

The aim of our present study is to make a comparative study of women characters in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and August Strindberg’s Miss Julie from a naturalistic point of view. Henrik Ibsen is known to be one of the most eminent playwrights of his time. He is often called the ‘father of the modern drama’ because he had helped to popularize realism. Practically his whole life is devoted to the theatre. His spare hours were spent in the preparation for entrance to the Christiania University, where about at the age of twenty, he formed a friendship with Bjornson. During the winter of 1848 he wrote his first play Cateline. In about 1851 he was given the position of the ‘theatre poet’. In 1857 he had become the director of the Norwegian theatre in Christiania. While there he published another work The Vikings at Hedgeland and married Suzannah in 1858. In 1860, he was under the attack of the press for the lack of productivity although he had published a few poems. The Christinia University went bankrupt in1862. During this period he completed The Pretenders (1863) and a dramatic epic poem Brand (1866) which soon achieved critical voice and this was followed by Peer Gynt (1867). The first of Ibsen’s prose drams were The League of the Youth, published in 1869, followed by Emperor and the Galilean (1873), his first work to be translated into English, and then The Pillars of the Society (1877), A Doll’s House (1879), Ghosts (1881), and An Enemy of the People (1882) are among the plays that contribute to realism. His next phase of works included a shift from social concerns to the isolation of the individual. The MasterBuilder (1892), Little Eyolf (1894), John Gabriel Borkman (1896), and When We Dead Awaken (1899), all treat the conflicts that arise between art and life, between creativity and expectations, and between personal contentment and self deception. The element of naturalism prevailed in his personal life. Ibsen himself was subjected to poverty as a result of his father’s bankruptcy. Elizabeth Hardwick believed that, “his mother had suffered many hardships and had served as a model for the female characters” (43). In his early works Ibsen has used poetry with mythological themes but then switches to a realistic style with the play The Pillars of the Society. This realistic style is a break from the fanciful operas and the stock characters and Ibsen became a detailed observer of true human life. In 1888 women were finally given right of control over their money. In 1879 a wife was not legally permitted to borrow money without her husband’s consent. This issue was already popular in Norway where Ibsen lived. Norway was a newly liberated country, having been freed from the Danish control. Norwegian law had passed laws regarding the protection of women and their employment. By the middle of the nineteenth century women had been provided the same laws of protection as to the male children. Women were permitted inheritance rights, though the employment wages they received were quite low. Although divorce was legal but it was only enacted if both the partners agreed. Such issues have been taken by Henrik Ibsen with great insight. In the book Performing Women: Female Characters, Male Playwrights and Modern Stage, Gay Gibson Cima says that, “Ibsen’s work treats real life issues in an almost journalistic manner” (229). A Doll’s House was published on December 4, 1879 and was first performed in Copenhagen on December 21. This work was considered a publishing event and it sold around 8000 copies. However, it created a controversy that Ibsen had to disappointingly change its ending, he was forced to write a second ending for the play that he called as, “ a barbaric outrage” Ibsen believes that women were best suited to be mothers and wives, but at the same time, he had an eye for...
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