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The Doll House Backlash: Criticism, Feminism, and Ibsen

Joan Templeton
PMLA
Vol. 104, No. 1 (Jan., 1989), pp. 28-40
DOI: 10.2307/462329
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/462329
Page Count: 13
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The Doll House Backlash: Criticism, Feminism, and Ibsen
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Abstract

One of modern feminism's most crucial literary texts has incited a systematic backlash that would save its author from feminism, denying that mere gender can have a place in Ibsen's universal art or claiming that Nora Helmer is too inconsistent, frivolous, dishonest, abnormal, or unwomanly to be a feminist heroine. The argument that Nora represents not Woman but Everyman is a gender-based tautology in itself; applied to the play's thoroughgoing feminist text it becomes doubly nonsense. The confused notions that Nora's critics have about feminism and its relation to art lead them to uphold equally illogical positions, and their charges against Nora, which repeat those of her foil and husband, constitute both a serious misreading and, unintentionally, a kind of spurious deconstruction that denies the play's coherence and worth. Finally, research on Ibsen's life proves that, all claims to the contrary, his intentions in A Doll House were thoroughly feminist.

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