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Casting Off the Shackles of Family

Ibsen’s Nora Figure in Modern Chinese Literature, 1918-1942


Shuei-may Chang

Nora, a character from Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll House, was a model for liberal-thinking Chinese women during the May Fourth Era of the 1920s and 1930s. Nora-like figures appeared often in modern Chinese literature to illustrate the issue of women’s emancipation. Casting Off the Shackles of Family explores the reception and transformation of the Nora theme in the works of Lu Hsün, Mao Tun, Ting Ling, and other May Fourth writers. In particular, it uses female heroic journey theories to trace women’s pursuit of independence and freedom in modern China.