Masterpieces of Women's Literature Seduction and Betrayal Analysis - Essay

Elizabeth Hardwick

Masterpieces of Women's Literature Seduction and Betrayal Analysis

Hardwick’s interest in the public and private lives of women manifests itself throughout Seduction and Betrayal, as does her special understanding of the many difficulties that have to be overcome by the successful woman writer. Most of these difficulties have to do with the position of women in the family and in society under the rule of patriarchy. In her first essay, “The Brontës,” Hardwick discusses how Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Brontë developed their literary talents and careers in the face of particular challenges: poverty, illness, and lack of love.

The lives of Ibsen’s women figures are of interest to Hardwick, much as if these characters had been creatures of flesh and blood. Willingly suspending her knowledge that Ibsen’s women are not real human beings, she submits them to the kind of careful psychological analysis that might have been appropriate in a biographical essay. Hardwick also goes beyond the Ibsen characters themselves to the real people who inspired them, noting, for example, the connection between Ibsen’s young German friend Emilie Bardach and the siren Hilde Wangel in The Master Builder (1892).

Hardwick’s discussion of the character Nora Helmer in A Doll’s House is an excellent example of how a consideration of both the literary figure and the human model behind her can be helpful. After offering a close, clear, concise, and insightful reading of the play, Hardwick poses the question of how the impressions of Nora which are given in the first act can be reconciled with the picture of Nora which is presented in the final act of the drama. The problem is, says Hardwick, that Nora seems to have developed too far and too fast. Hardwick points out, however,...

(The entire section is 713 words.)