Finished the assigned chapter of Herthas dröm from Hertha, the 1856 novel by the Swedish author Fredrika Bremer. At the beginning of the chapter Hertha has a vision of God, whom she addresses:
"Fader! Låt mig arbeta och glÃ¤da mig, som dessa mina bröder!"
Det hÃ¤rliga, milda ansiktet log och svarade: "Gå, min dotter!"
"Father! Let me work and make myself happy, as my brothers do!"The wonderful, mild face smiled and answered: "Go, my daughter!"
Hertha spies from afar an allegorical Tree of Life in the far distance, the fruit of which is forbidden to women. She encounters the three Norns, figures from Viking mythology, who guard the Tree of Life and the spring that feeds it. The second Norn warns her:
Den Ã¤r ej för den svaga.
Den Ã¤r blott för den hjÃ¤ltemodiga,
den starka i viljan,
och för den, som redligen kÃ¤mpar.
Hon ensam Ã¤r vÃ¤rdig.
It is not for the weak.
It is only for the valorous,
the strong in will,
and for those who readily fight.
She alone is worthy.
Despite the blessing of the Almighty, and the advice from the Norns, Hertha encounters nothing but trouble on her journey. Doors are closed to her, school forbidden, trade education impossible. Ministers of the church tell her that women must be silent in the congregation. In her dream Hertha travels around the world in a series of vignettes in an attempt to find countries where women are freer than Sweden. In some lands people tell her of the high regard which Sweden has for women, and she cannot bring herself to tell them the truth. Amongst dozens of oppressed women she meets a countervailing example, prostitutes (glÃ¤djeflickor). Briefly seduced by their seeming power over their clients and their freedom from social mores, Hertha eventually condemns them:
Bort, bort, I ljugen! Jag ser, att edra kinder Ã¤ro smikande och edra blommor konstgjorda. Jag ser under er glittrande glÃ¤dje en hemlig oro. Stackars systrar! I frukten ålderdomen och döden. Dem fruktar icke jag. Jag kÃ¤nner i mitt lidande och lÃ¤ngtande hjÃ¤rta något stort, som jag icke ser hos er. Och hellre Ã¤n att leva lycklig av er lycka vill jag dö olycklig med de olyckliga.
Away, away, ye lie! I see, that your cheeks are powdered and your flowers artificial. I see under your glittering joy a secret anxiety. Poor sisters! Ye fear old age and death. I fear them not. I feel in my suffering and longing heart something great, which I see not among ye. And rather than live joyously of your joy, would I die unhappily with the unhappy.