Truth Exposed in A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler
"No other dramatist had ever meant so much to the women of the stage," claimed Elizabeth Robins, the actress who performed the title role in the English-language premier of Hedda Gabler in London in 1891 (Farfan 60). Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian dramatist and poet whose works are notorious for their unveiling of the truths that society preferred to keep hidden. Ibsen was sensitive to women's issues and through his works, he advocated for women's rights, a controversial issue for a male writer in the 19th century. Although Ibsen has alluded to the fact that he was not a part of the women's movement, his brave portrayal of women in their socially confined positions can earn him the title of 'feminist writer.'
In two of Ibsen's most famous works, A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler, the main characters are females who strive to be self-motivated beings. Because of the male-oriented society that dominates their lives, which resembles the world women had to deal with at the time when Ibsen created his works, the confined characters demonstrate their socially imposed roles. "Ibsen's Nora is not just a woman arguing for female liberation; she is much more. She embodies the comedy as well as the tragedy of modern life," insisted Einar Haugen, a doyen of American Scandinavian studies, over twenty years later, after feminism has resurfaced as an international movement (Templeton 111). Many people admire Ibsen for portraying Hedda and Nora as women who are able to take action and escape the conventional roles expected of them.
Ibsen uses the role of motherhood to display battles women must fight involving their desires to be independent individuals and the directions that society expects their lives to go in. Hedda and Nora both take steps down the feminine path of marriage and then pregnancy against their best interests. Juliana Tesman, a single, childless woman, sees Hedda's pregnancy as being good for Hedda's husband, George. Miss Tesman states, "God bless and keep you, Hedda Tesman-for George's sake" (Ibsen 705). Ibsen displays women, without children, viewing motherhood positively. In both Hedda and Nora's circumstances, society demands that their sole purpose is to serve their husbands. Usually, women reach maturity through marriage and after having children. Ibsen chose the opposite as his case.
Nora only achieves maturity when she leaves her husband and children. Through her abandonment she was able to receive closure on the aspect of her life that was preventing her from reaching her full potential. Prior to her leaving, Nora explains to Torvald what she must do for her best interests. "I have to try to educate myself," she says, "You can't help me with that. I've got to do it alone. And that's why I'm leaving you now" (Ibsen 192). Torvald responds by saying that she has no right to neglect her duties to her husband and children. Nora explains, "I have other...