Last summer I was instructed to write a brief biography of a figure in theatrical history and I chose Henrick Ibsen, the father of Realism. Through my research I found that the story of Ibsen can not be told without examining his relationship with strong women. What I find most intriguing was the realtionship he shared with an early feminist and writer, Camilla Collett; whom he later credited as an influence on his work.
What is so crucial about this connection is that Henrik Ibsen is the uncontested creator of the theatrical genre of Realism. This genre is one of the most prominent genres of theater today and has a huge influence on theater as a whole. Through critical reading of his works, alongside historical context, I found that his ideas on women's oppression in a male society has continued to shape how Realism is defined today. Ibsen’s contact with progressive feminists and writers is what led a once conservative man to reconsider his views on society, and he structured his plays to reflect those ideas on stage. One of the foundational conventions Ibsen created was setting his plays in the feminized domestic space where women had power over the internal conflict of the plot. By giving women this power he made feminist issues not only an effect of his plays, but instrumental to the genre as a whole. My research is focused on the reclamation of female influence on literature and performance. From examining the work of one historical figure my findings suggest that the narrative of realism is incomplete without acknowledging the impact of feminism on theater as a whole.
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2 November 2019
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19 July 2022