Imagination needs inspiration to bloom.


Skådespelerskan by Anne Charlotte Leffler

When Helge Stålberg presents his future wife, Ester Larsson, to his family, she is doomed from the beginning. She is out-spoken and coquettish, immediately drawing attention to herself. And, worse, she's an actress. She wants to fit into the family badly, and is prepared to perform, but her role as the ”woman” she thinks Helge wants her to be, fails considerably, and the real Ester shines through. 

The play was published in 1873, in a time when women were considered suitable for household duties and not public inspection. While Ester preformed, and was seen and admired by the audience, middle-class women hardly went ouside their homes without an escort, in that way avoiding to be viewed as every man's property. Ester wasn't modest and pleasant, she was the center of attention and thereby trespassing the boundaries of female conventions. She became the topic of conversation, and the men's amusement and object of admiration, something that aggravated the women in the family, who was suddenly forced to consider their own feminity and sexuality. The theme is the middle-class woman, used to supress her desires, meeting with the actress, used to play upon her sexuality and men's weekness for it. They are both, in different ways, identities produced by the norms and conventions of society, that still exists today.

The play was controversial for its time, considering the main theme of female identity, imprisonment and inferiority, as well as the married woman's silent war for independence. In many ways it resembles authors like Strindberg and Ibsen, when it comes to Leffler's direct approached and the topic of freedom from prejudice.

There's an interesting parallel between the author and her main character, Ester Larsson. Leffler's husband wasn't pleased with her writing ambitions, which didn't fit into the womanly qualitites, and she wrote in secret, under a pseudonym. Eventually, her plays were successful, and she began to write under her own name, despite her husband's objections. Leffler divorced him, moved to Italy and married a ten years younger man, who was her equal and colleague, encouraging her in the same way as her parents had done. Finally, as strongly as her character Ester Larsson, she had freed herself from the conventions of society. Furthermore, her plays became some of the most performed in the nordic countries in the 1880's.

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