A Doll's House

Ibsen's Portrayal of Women

'Ibsen's knowledge of humanity is nowhere more obvious than in his portrayal of women' (Joyce). Discuss and illustrate:

In his often quoted 'Notes for a Modern Society' Ibsen stated that, 'in practical life, woman is judged by masculine law, as though she weren't a woman but a man - a woman cannot be herself in modern society'. These thoughtful reflections attracted much positive acclaim from feminists at the turn of the century, despite Ibsen's emphatic declaration that 'I am not a member of the Women's Rights League' (McFarlane, p.90). The extent to which Ibsen did directly sympathize with the feminists is still debated today, but this is largely irrelevant when considering his portrayal of women. More engaging is the idea that Ibsen did indeed have a vivid insight into women's nature, and a fervent interest in the manner in which it was affected by contemporary society. This resulted in the creation of colorful female protagonists such as Nora Helmer and Hedda Gabler, whose character traits are not only entertaining for the purpose of the drama, but also remarkably well-observed. Ibsen's equally convincing portrayal of marital relationships should not be overlooked; his...

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