Cutting the Knots: Disassociation of Female Characters from Domestic Spheres in Henrik Ibsen’s Plays

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Asma Khatoon
Dr. Salma Khatoon


This article explores female characters' quest for a newly discovered world which they will redefine by their newly discovered realities in Henrik Ibsen’s plays. The essay explores how they undergo ordeals to gain self-knowledge so that the reader can understand the struggle of women in an oppressive patriarchal culture. Ibsen’s female characters are criticized for their haughtiness and their failure to realize their primary duty as wives and mothers. This research contends that in search for meaning, Ibsen’s female characters destroy the rigid moulds of society and try to emerge out of their traditional domesticated roles. This article further applies Freud’s concept of “un homely” to expose the seemingly safe havens of domestic world. Their attempts to search for the unadulterated truth of their existence are more than just reactions: they actually revolt against all the unnatural patriarchal patterns. They challenge these roles and, in their defiance, they impart new meanings to their lives. This article describes how this quest for certain principles of life functions in Ibsen's major plays through his dominant female characters and finds its ultimate expression in the renewed roles they acquire. In exploring purpose behind every action of these female characters, I have included Ibsen's three major works: A Doll's House, Hedda Gabler, and Ghosts. A close textual analysis of the works locates the strength of Ibsen's female characters and their will power that empowers them to change patriarchal patterns.

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Author Biographies

Asma Khatoon, Lecturer in English at Govt. Degree College for Women Gulshan-e- Ravi, Lahore.



Dr. Salma Khatoon, Assistant Professor of English, GC University Lahore