Henrik Ibsen

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Henrik Ibsen was born in Norway on March 20, 1828. He was the eldest of five children, and the son of a prominent merchant and his wife. He married Suzannah Thoresen in 1858 and they had a child, Sigurd Ibsen. Ibsen felt strongly about marriage and that man and women should be equal. They should each be free to develop in their own way.

Ibsen often stated that his work and characters really represented human beings that he knew. In a speech to the Christian students in 1874 he stated... "All I have written... I have mentally lived through. I have also written on the opposite, on that which to introspective contemplation appears as the dregs and sediments of one's own nature  (Gallienne, XXVIII). A Doll's House and Hedda Gabbler both were written with an internal motive to explore personalities within a social context.

Ibsen consistently denied the accuracy of being labeled a feminist, he was definitely sympathetic to the womens' rights issues.

In Norway, Ibsen witnessed the development of a woman's movement in the 1880's. It was financially necessary to be middle class and to provide for a daughter who was not married. Women, at that time, were barred from receiving an education or any dignified employment. In 1884, Ibsen petitioned the government to demand that married women be allowed to earnings and property. At the time, the only passions a woman was to have were to love her children, home, and domestic duties. A woman was to teach her daughters to carry on her path and not to try and go above the pecking order.

Ibsen's plays expressed the struggles of people to bring their lives into harmony with their convictions. It was important to Ibsen that women achieve a balance between self and individuality. One's personal identity as apposed to animality was displayed by overcoming obstacles which prevented the individual's development. Usually that which cons... Continue Reading