Introduction: From Destiny to Dilemma—Motherhood In the Twentieth Century

  • Ann Taylor Allen


When Nora, the heroine of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, walked out the door of her comfortable home, her husband Torvald frantically sought to hold her back. “Before all things, you are a wife and mother,” he protested. “I don’t believe that any longer,” was Nora’s response, “I believe that before all else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are—or at any event, that I must try and become one.” Nora, the mother of three, aspired to autonomy for her own sake and for the sake of her children. In her present state of child-like dependence, she reflected sadly, she was “of no use to them.”1 As she slammed the door on her husband and children, Nora raised the question that this book will address: is it possible to be both a mother and an autonomous individual? This is what I will call the “maternal dilemma.”


Child Relationship Demographic Transition Feminist Movement Maternal Role Female Couple 
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© Ann Taylor Allen 2005

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  • Ann Taylor Allen

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