Life should be treated like a woman. Ought one not to be gallant towards life, so that she benefits thereby? One should give way, and give away again, and leave every treasure where one finds it. (Rosa, 1908)
In all of Hamsun’s novels the perspective is that of a male narrator. But this did not prevent him from creating a number of fascinating female characters with their own perspective on things and their own opinions. Nevertheless, Hamsun’s aversion to ideas of women’s liberation and sexual equality is also apparent in his descriptions of female characters.
Hamsun is critical of the new woman who realises herself at the cost of childbearing and family life. This type of female character is portrayed in Hanka i Shallow Soil (1893), the Torsen-type in Chapter the Last (1923) and Lili in The Ring is Closed (1896), negative portrayals, but in some sense tragic too.
The ideal female in Hamsun’s writing is the self-sacrificing woman who defers to her husband while being a mother and the heart of the family. Inger in Growth of the Soil (1920) is the most striking example of this type of female character.