Last Updated 26 Mar 2020

The Relationship between Gender and Modernism/Postmodernism

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In late XIX - early XX century a total crisis gripped various areas of life - economy, politics and culture. However, the ideological ferment minds, lack of confidence in the future, premonition close historical and social change, although anxiety filled the souls of men, but encouraged to seek new ideals of life and creativity. Artists tried to find new forms adequate to reflect changes that had occurred primarily in human consciousness, and reach a new level of artistic creation values as they didn’t perceive the romanticism and realism means.

Art of the first half of XX century primarily determines such things as decadence and modernism. Among many modernist writers, I would like to mention Ibsen and O 'Conner, whose works are a reflection of real life and social problems. The status of women in society and family is considered to be one of these problems (Burgess 153). Henrik Ibsen is Norwegian playwright, whose work is considered the crowning achievement of so-called “middle-class drama”, which fell on the flowering of the XVIII century. However, he is considered the creator of the foundations of “new drama” - a new path in the development of world drama.

What was a new Ibsen’s approach to reality? Ibsen was one of the first playwrights, who had shown a new society by making stress on the tragedy of human life not in individual acts of negative second part, and in life itself. He showed the tragedy of life, debunked the false morality. In the play “A Doll's House” not only the dream of the playwright about the family and the family comfort was embodied, but also a critical attitude towards society, which does not recognize women's equal rights with men. “A Doll's House” was an innovative product and the best example of “new drama”.

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In addition, it combines realism with modernist form of embodiment. It is also an intellectual and analytical piece, in which there is a problem of personality, which seeks to protect his identity, the right to dignity in modern drama society. The end of XIX century was marked by the development of feminist movements. This question provoked strong interest of society and was the subject of disputes in many families. So the play by Ibsen was a response to the requests of time. The focus of the playwright is in the role of women in the family and her status in society.

From the first scenes the reader can understand how the author appreciates the comfort of kin, how he admires Nora - a real ideal woman: funny, sweet, and nice. Her children adore her and her husband is satisfied with the tale, illusion of a perfect family. What's wrong with this idyllic picture? Maybe, it's just fantasy, not the authenticity of everything that they see outside. The plays by Ibsen are called "analytic" not by chance, the author analyzes the problems of the modern family, in which the woman is often not only conquered, but does not have the right to vote.

While Nora was such a vital playful "squirrel" for her husband Thorvald, he admired her; he loved his wife and took care of her. Only of her? Probably not. But once it became clear that Nora could do something by her own, she could make her own decision. When she took the money for her husband’s medication everybody saw the real attitude of such a loving husband to his wife. It was a despot who did not bear the thought that his wife has something to solve herself, that she could be responsible for her choices.

That's where the subsoil is constructed in the Helmer family (Boyesen 94). The play has become a loud resonance precisely because of the fact that the problem of women's fate, and human was at point that time. When Nora left the family, it was really a shock for society, with its stabilized mind's eye on the role of women in family and society. It was the first time when woman said of her dignity and desire to be a person, not just a beautiful doll for men. A woman does not agree any more with the role of a slave and a housewife.

She wants to be on a par with men to live a full life, to love, raise children and feel like a man. This solves the problem of women's rights in the family. Flannery O'Connor is an outstanding American author. The author of "Gothic" novels and short stories about rural life of the American South, animate the religious fervor and brightly-colored comic strokes. Metaphysical, on what it called “enlarged” view of the world combined with the full perception of reality. Major trends of her work have identified a zealous Catholic and a disbelief in science, shattering the primordial life.

For O'Connor, the image is characterized by unexpected, extreme situations, resulting in acts of violence provoked by the grotesque characters. “A good man is hard to find” is the most outstanding work of this author which tackles both the author’s views regarding personal transformations and Christianity. The story follows the life of a Christian grandmother who faces various struggles with her family and environment in terms of religion, beliefs, and practices. Many of Flannery O'Connor's characters defy cultural expectations.

For example, many of her women are strong, opinionated leaders, while the prevailing culture, especially during O'Connor's lifetime, prized women as nurturing homemakers whose role was to support the decisions and opinions of men. Grandmothers, especially, were expected to follow the lead of their grown sons if there was no grandfather in the house. Men, not women, were the driving decision-makers (at least on the surface) in literature, and generally in society until after World War 2. The mother in this story is the more stereotypical character who is left in her assigned gender role.

O'Connor's grandmother character defies the cultural stereotype. She is opinionated and not shy of voicing those opinions on subjects from vacation destinations to proper etiquette for children to current events. She pays attention to the details that others ignore, including the starting mileage of the car and the facial features of The Misfit (O’Connor 48). O Connor's grandmother character is also the one to defend the family during the "predicament. " Again in traditional gender roles, family protection is the domain of the family patriarch, not one of the women.

Yet, in another example of O'Connor's challenge to social norms, it is the elderly woman who stands to defend her family. Both authors in their works paid great attention to the role of a woman in family and in society, her right to take decisive actions, the importance of her personality. The works by Ibsen and O'Conner caused much controversy but they still remained bright representatives of modernism. The topics and problems they discussed in their works are still important and relevant.

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The Relationship between Gender and Modernism/Postmodernism. (2016, Oct 03). Retrieved from

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