Leon Trotsky



Written: Vostochnoye Obozreniye Nos 121, 122, 126, 3, 4, 9, June 1901;
Reprinted and published: Revolutionary History, "Culture and Revolution in the Thought of Leon Trotsky", Volume 7, No 2.

We must also say something about Ibsen's women, as he is a writer to whom many are ready to give the title of a 'singer of women'. Ibsen certainly paid a lot of attention when depicting female characters, who are represented in considerable variety in his dramas.

In Ellida (The Lady from the Sea) and partially in Marta (The Pillars) are personified the dreamy yearnings of escape from a dull life, to where 'the sky is wide... clouds rise higher... the air is freer...', yearnings, which in higher stages become a desire 'to slap the face of all that decorum', not stopping even before a break from one's country (Lona and Dina in The Pillars), or with husband and children (Nora). A procession comes before us of Ibsen's women who are self-sacrificing, always living for somebody else and never for themselves (auntie Juliana in Hedda, Mrs Linden in A Doll's House), unhappy slaves of married and maternal duty (Elena Alving in When We Dead Awaken), gentle, morbidly sensitive, affectionate and weak-willed, like Kaja Fosli (The Master Builder), or Mrs Elvsted (Hedda), and finally, a woman of a fin de siecle type, spiritually-broken, highly-strung, decadent Hedda Gabler....

The reality of the last decades has created a new woman, who stands three times as high not only as the Nora who breaks from her husband as a result of an awakened consciousness of her own dignity, but also as the Nora of the later period, who puts all her efforts into a fervent struggle for women's emancipation.

This new woman raises higher than the question of the position of women from a privileged class the social question of the realisation of a form of social life under which there will be no place not only for the subordination of woman by man, but generally for any subordination of one person to another. Hand in hand with man, this woman -- not in the old role of being an inspiration for her husband, brother or son, but as a comrade in arms, equal to them -- fights for the realisation of the best ideals of the present time. Ibsen did not know such a woman.