Rollmops....

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Registered: 02-06-2009
Rollmops....
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Tue, 02-16-2010 - 6:24am

Not a culinary question this time, but a historical one.

What were the social expectations of a young married woman in 1870s Scandinavia?

This is a question my brother has to research for Uni, as he's studying A Doll's House by Ibsen. He asked me for help, and I thought you might be able to point me in a useful direction? Possibly?

(can you tell I don't know any Scandinavians IRL? ;O) )

Meez 3D avatar avatars games
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Registered: 02-24-2009
Thu, 02-18-2010 - 2:47am

Infidelity is a theme in A Doll's House? FYI, there were suffragettes in Norway, Scandinavia and most of the rest of Europe generally as well.

I am reminded of DH's g-grandma, a Greek. She was a well to do woman and did not accept her dh's infidelity. So, when she caught him with the governess, she threw his sorry behind out. Since she owned the house anyway, and had an income of her own anyway, it was no problem for her. Then she brought up her 6 kids solo, although she allowed her ex to come visit the children at a certain hour in the morning.

Not a lazy woman, she helped found the Greek Red Cross, and even went into the field as a war nurse during the Balkan Wars (1912-13). At that point she still had a couple of teens at home. I doubt she was a suffragette or ever thought in feminist terms, but she was a crack shot and took no ... from nobody.

**** ^^^ ****
You can do the work of the mind without your hands,
but not that of the hand without your mind.

Danish proverb




Edited 2/18/2010 3:25 am ET by rollmops2009
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Thu, 02-18-2010 - 1:38am

I don't understand - are you saying that Norwegian women could get away with infidelity?

Meez 3D avatar avatars games
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Wed, 02-17-2010 - 10:28pm

The huge thing in poor Norway was that a young married woman especially highlighted in A Doll's House was that she was expected to overlook her husband's many infidelities.

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Registered: 05-10-2009
Tue, 02-16-2010 - 6:21pm
Hey! I was Asst Dir for my college production of A Doll's House.
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Registered: 02-06-2009
Tue, 02-16-2010 - 1:38pm

Thank you so much! That's just the kind of info my brother needs.

Meez 3D avatar avatars games
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Tue, 02-16-2010 - 9:00am

LOL, well, I am not a historian and I don't play one on TV. The first part of the answer is the obvious one that it really depends, in great part, on who the young woman was. Girls of the lower classes, and that would include the kids of small shopkeepers, would normally go into some kind of domestic service after their confirmation. Somewhere down the line they would get married, at which point they would bring up the young uns and usually assist the husband in whatever business he was in.

Working class girls would presumably work in factories of some sort, although Scandinavia is industrialized fairly late, so 1870s may be a bit early for that.

Middle class and up, the girls learned piano, foreign languages and embroidery. Then their mothers tried to get them married well. After marriage, they would run the household, which could be a fairly demanding job.

How much money the girl had from her family could influence how much power she wielded in the marriage. There are, for example, a few examples in my own family of husbands taking the names of their wives, because the wife had the real dough. We also have examples of widows carrying on the businesses of their husbands, after the husband croaked.

Ibsen's Nora is probably a fair example of those times, but still an extreme one, IMO. Ibsen set out to highlight the plight of women, and certainly their room to move was limited in many ways. At the same time, one of my g-grandmas ran a butcher shop for 30 years, on her own. Another g-grandma, who was upper middle class, was in charge of feeding all her husbands employees 6 days a week, in addition to managing all the rest of the household, with help, of course, but still.

I don't know what literature exists in English on the subject. One of the key families at that time, which had members involved in intellectual and political life, was the Brandes family. I would think one of them, probably Georg Brandes, must have written something about women.

Here is his wiki entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Brandes and I see there that my hunch was right, Ibsen subscribed to his ideas. The entry also says that Brandes translated "The subjection of WOmen," by John Stuart Mill into Danish. At the end there is a small bibliography in English with books about Brandes and his time.

**** ^^^ ****
You can do the work of the mind without your hands,
but not that of the hand without your mind.

Danish proverb