In the play Hedda Gabler, Ibsen creates a triangular relationship among the the Tesmans if Loevborg is allowed in the circle of trust between Hedda and. She then betrays Thea's trust by revealing to Lovborg that Thea had come to her . Judge Brack hides his desire for an intimate relationship with Hedda with an. pace was frenetic, to the point that Hedda's burning of Løvborg's manuscript. Hedda's .. her marriage, he first addresses her as “Hedda Gabler,” then moves to plain .. anything to the ex-parson Rosmer), but of the very idea that we can trust.
This is shown, for example, in her malice towards Aunt Julle and her hat. The aunt means nothing to her. She ends its life, after all, when she ends her own.
As an acceptable wife, mother or lady, she cannot exist. It is this, perhaps, that points most towards Hedda Gabler as a feminist play. Perhaps, too, her inability to participate in male discourse is emphasised as she wildly plays the piano, moments before her suicide .
As Walkington points out, Lovborg is socially accepted despite the immorality of his past, purely because he is a man . Hedda as an unsympathetic monster If a character is unsympathetic, how can she further her cause? To many inHedda really was an irredeemable monster. The play itself was equally bewildering. What a hideous play! This response is not limited to nineteenth century audiences. Evidentially, these accusations are not without weight.
If Hedda and her story are this unlikeable, this confounding, it seems unlikely she was written to further a social cause, or that she would succeed in doing so. A monster, in short, does not make a good advocate.
If these interpretations of the play are to be accepted, then, Hedda Gabler is almost certainly not feminist. Hedda offered shared identity among these women, a collective voice for formerly unspoken dissatisfactions. This implies that Hedda Gabler must have a feminist side.
For many, it was the first step towards the fight for gender equality: If unintentionally, Ibsen opened eyes and advanced feminist goals with Hedda Gabler, meaning on some level, it must be a feminist play. The male-female dichotomy of reactions to it can also be explained.
To me it has been a question of human rights. He simply seemed to be challenging himself, enjoying an exploration of the extreme dramatic potential of the human mind. They grew infatuated, corresponding for several months, and a series of romantic relationships between Ibsen and much younger women then ensued. They probably never developed into physical relationships. Ibsen had suppressed his emotions for so long and now he had a chance to fulfil them, he was unable to do so perhaps due to fear of scandal, a sense of duty towards his wife, or consciousness or fear of aging and physical impotence .
Like Hedda, Ibsen felt frustrated and repressed. Lovborg as an idealised portrait of the wildly emotional young man he was, and Tesman as the intellectual self he chose to become . He clarifies this himself. Yet Ibsen recognised gender inequality in society, whether or not it troubled him personally; he even made notes  on the subject, and considered it important to the play.
But then scruples intervene. Some inherited, some implanted. Ultimately, indeed, Hedda realises life does not hold the purpose and beauty she searched for, and this is another theory for her suicide. He may have chosen to use them as an outlet, a vehicle to express his own emotional situation.
He recognised the subjugation and suffering of many women, and he clearly expressed this in his play. He was successful; women recognised it, sympathised with Hedda, and used it to further their own social cause. Hedda deserves universal sympathy For a play to be feminist, it tends to portray the experience of female suffering under established patriarchal norms. It should, as discussed earlier, portray the damage of these norms, and incite sympathy from the audience.
This emotional response is what effectively inspires recognition and support of feminist goals. I have summarised how Hedda is oppressed by society, and that contemporary women identified with her. It remains, however, whether Hedda can be sympathetic to us all, across centuries and gender boundaries. If she is, as I will argue, this defends the view that Hedda Gabler can be a truly feminist play.
Ultimately, Hedda is trapped. Her life, her marriage, her pregnancy, her gender and her own character disappoint, repel, and suffocate her. Despite her dominance onstage, she is essentially helpless, to a potentially pitiable degree. Throughout Hedda Gabler, there are moments when she forcefully suppresses emotion, releasing it only when alone.
More tragically still, Hedda is beyond reach, beyond help. Thea, Lovborg, Brack and Tesman cannot understand why she is not happy, blind to her vision and need for personal freedom. In the Robins and Lea production ofthe unchanging set, heavy curtains and close air reflect her claustrophobia; she is, as Jones asserts, effectively housebound . She transforms from boredom to excitement when she hears of the outside world, wanting only the influence of men. Tragically, Hedda never succeeds.
She is flawed, but not irredeemable. Hedda is someone who expected too much from the world, who could neither cope with nor reject what society asked of her. Her dilemmas are human dilemmas; both men and women can identify with the pressures of society, the frustrations and disappointments of life, our own inner conflicts.
She is primarily human. It is this that lends her sympathy, relatability, and influence to further a feminist cause. Hedda is not reduced to an unemotional caricature of a woman, moral or immoral, but entirely unsympathetic. Perhaps, instead, her own weak character is entirely to blame. If this is the case, Hedda Gabler is simply the story of a troubled individual, and inequality between the sexes, and cries for social change, do not come into it.
She rebels, derives some power from a powerless position, but she remains a coward. She lacks even the courage to find it, before destroying her chances forever. Principal among these was the idea that the writer should render life both objectively and faithfully, concentrating on fairly ordinary people who face problems that can only be resolved in a manner that is true to life. In his realistic works, Ibsen sought to capture a sense of reality by using the characteristics of ordinary conversation, unencumbered with ornate diction and insistent poetic effects.
In their cadences and diction his characters speak like real people, if, from dramatic necessity, somewhat more effortlessly and pointedly, and, in Norwegian at least, somewhat more sonorously. If they are not clear, they must at least have verisimilitude, that quality that allows the viewer to conclude that even very puzzling characters are true to life and have validity.
It is in Hedda Gabler that Ibsen takes his realism in drama to his limits. Perhaps to underscore her brusque incivility and abrupt mood changes, Ibsen experimented with a new technique, eliminating long speeches altogether.
Foil An important device used by Ibsen in Hedda Gabler is the character foil. Hedda has two principal foils: Thea Elvsted and Juliana Tesman. George Tesman and Eilert Lovborg are also foils. His principal interest as scholar lies in rooting through the relics of the past, taking and organizing notes about the domestic industries of medieval Brabant. Lovborg, in contrast, is an erratic genius, prone to excess and easily drawn to hedonistic pleasures.
As a visionary scholar, he is much more interested in the past for what it may reveal about the future, the unknown. He is, however, arrogant, self-destructive, and, at the last, somewhat pathetic.Hedda Gabler
Symbol Ibsen makes it impossible to ignore some important symbols in Hedda Gabler. It is partly from her intense jealousy that Hedda destroys it and sets out to break the bond between Thea and Lovborg. The pistols, on the other hand, suggest masculinity, and have long been identified as phallic symbols. It is noteworthy that both George Tesman and Judge Brack are appalled by the fact that Hedda plays with them. They represent the freedom that Hedda longs for but must sacrifice to respectability.
That isolation was partly the result of inaccessibility. Modern communication and transportation were still in their infancy, awaiting the second major stage of the industrial revolution. The post and telegraph were the only real means of exchanging information over long distances, for the telephone was not yet in general use and wireless or radio communications were still the yet-to-be-realized dreams of Guglielmo Marconi and other inventors and engineers.
But Norway was also isolated in other ways. The dominate religion, Evangelical Lutheranism, was a conservative force in the social thinking of the country and one that, through his creative life, had not treated Ibsen well.
As a result, Ibsen was forced into a long artistic exile from his homeland. A continent away, in the United States, as the historian Frederick Jackson Turner noted, the frontier was finally closing. The United States would soon look across the seas for new challenges and new opportunities. Meanwhile, the British Empire was still in a major stage of development, making inroads in the near and far East by dint of its superior naval power.
Indeed, it ruled the seas, though in Africa and other undeveloped areas of the world it had major competitors, including Germany and France, which, like Great Britainlooked for raw materials and markets to exploit. The seeds of more revolutionary changes were also sown in the s. The world stands on the threshold of the second major phase of the industrial revolution, revolutionary changes in communications and transportation, the advent of the automobile, airplane, radio, phonograph, and film.
These innovations will bring isolated communities into virtual proximity with the cultural and political centers of the world. In the advanced nations of the world, the industrial revolution has ended.
To what extent is Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler a feminist play?
It is the time of technological revolution, leading the world into the space and information ages. Satellite communications and the computer make it possible for even the most isolated people to communicate with anyone in the world.
Throughout Europe, social sanctions against such things as pre-marital sex, divorce, and family abandonment are strong, forcing many people to live miserable lives. Officially, however, moral sanctions in society were strict and penalties for infractions severe.
Life in most post-industrial societies is permissive. In the United States, many marriages end in divorce. In many urban areas, single-parent families are prevalent, with pregnancy among unmarried teenage girls reaching epidemic proportions, despite the availability of birth-control drugs and devices.
Homosexuality has not only been decriminalized, it has reached considerably wide acceptance, at least in some quarters. Official and unofficial protectors of the strict community moral standards put theatrical performances under close scrutiny, and many have the authority either to shut down productions or lead boycotts or protests, some of which result in riots.
Plays can even be censored before they are performed. Both on stage and in media, especially film, there is virtually no official censorship. In the United States, for example, whatever moral codes relate to the substance of produced and broadcast works are self-imposed by the industries themselves. Frank treatment of what were once considered indelicate subjects is common, as are nudity, sex, and violence. Only the boycott remains as a possible avenue of protest, and it is rarely effective.
They are educated in their own finishing schools and are excluded from most professions. Much of their leisure time is spent in the company of other women, segregated from men. They lack political power because, even in the democracies, they lack the vote. Their possibilities in life outside of marriage are limited, unless, like Mme. Although many feminists still argue that women have yet to complete their liberation, enfranchisement and greater freedom have resulted from the revolutionary changes that have occurred in this century.
Women who sacrifice marriage and family for a career still earn reproach from more reactionary corners, but they are hardly censured or demonized by society at large. There remain few male-only bastions, and these are all under siege, at least in the United States. Women take the same jobs as men, go to the same schools, study the same subjects, and mix freely with men at all functions, from corporate board meetings to sporting events.
The feminist complaints of today are not so much about exclusion now as they are about equal treatment and compensation. The world was still reeling from the influence of two important thinkers, Karl Marx and Charles Darwin, whose impact was being felt in everything from religion and politics to arts and letters.
Great changes were underway, and they were coming at a rate never before experienced. The naturalistic school, for example, viewed humanity on the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder, trapped there by environmental forces beyond its control.
In the course of his own long life, he would become the greatest British dramatist of his age, and, next to Shakespeare, the second greatest in the history of British theater. Norwegian, English, German, French, Russian, and Dutch versions were printed almost simultaneously, with the result that the consternation many readers felt quickly spread throughout Europe. The newer work offended many and puzzled more critics, who, as Hans Heiberg noted in Ibsen: Reprinted in Ibsen, the critic opined: She is not related to anyone we know.
He suggested that the poor reception of Hedda Gabler stemmed from the general unpopularity of tragedy, not from faults in the play. Unlike Hedda, there is nothing vicious about Nora, who is mostly pure victim in a society under male control. Interestingly enough, it is because Hedda so completely dominates her play that her role soon became very attractive to actresses, and because it proved a great vehicle for the most talented and highly regarded among them, it evolved from its maligned beginning into a stage favorite.
The attraction of the part remains, despite the fact that the society that the play depicts is virtually extinct. Fiero Fiero is a Ph.
It is easy to understand why. Madame Bovaryby Gustave Flaubertis one of the important early works of French realism. The novel offers a brilliant and fairly sympathetic portrait of a shrewd and ambitious woman who attempts to better her circumstances by marrying and manipulating a country physician.
Margaret Flemingby James A. Herne, is the first genuinely realistic play in America. Although now considered sentimental, it depicts a woman who defies convention in undertaking to care for the illegitimate child of her husband. The Quintessence of Ibsenism may be more about George Bernard Shaw, its author, than it is about Ibsen, but it gives considerable insight into how Shaw and the British intelligentsia were attempting to transform theater into a vehicle for social improvement.
The work grew out of a lecture Shaw gave inthe same year that Ibsen published Hedda Gabler. Women in Modern Drama: It is, of course, her play, pure and simple. Hedda struggles violently against the conventional wife-mother role, a role she does not want but is mortally afraid to reject. That surely is as big a factor in her self-destruction as is her fear of being held sexual hostage to the sinister Judge Brack, who threatens to expose her to scandal, of which she is at least equally terrified.
More is learned about Hedda than any of the other female characters. She alone is prone to self-analysis, to confessing her fears and dissatisfactions, which, ironically, she reveals to the two men besides her husband who have pursued her: Judge Brack and Eilert Lovborg.
Hedda has no real female friends, no confidantes with whom she is either close or honest. In fact, she perceives each of the other women as an antagonist. The fact that they seem at peace with themselves profoundly annoys her and contributes to her mounting hysteria. Towards Thea Elvsted, she feigns a friendship, and she quickly betrays what trust Thea places in her.
She is also determined to rid her house of Berta, the household servant whose loyalty to the Tesman family daunts Hedda as well. George also seems prone to what from a male point of view seems to be a typical female trait: To Hedda, the masculine ideal is represented by her father General Gabler.
His portrait, a constant reminder of his influence, hangs in a prominent place in her inner sanctum, her room adjoining the drawing room.
The other women in Hedda Gabler, even those unseen, have one thing in common with Hedda. They are women who have either failed to meet the male ideal of woman as wife-mother or have rejected it, as Hedda, the least suited to the task, desires to do.
They also differ from Hedda in a vitally significant way: The unseen Diana is, in fact, one of those notorious fallen women. Talk about her is strained through polite euphemisms which only thinly veil that she is a prostitute, though not of the crass sidewalk variety.
She and her friends entertain gentlemen, both in salons and boudoirs, with the implication, too, that they are under some protection from the authorities, thanks to a double standard that permitted respectable men a sexual license denied to respectable women. The implication is that during his wooing of Hedda, frustrated by her repression of sexual passion, Eilert had found easy solace in the ready arms of Mademoiselle Diana.
Juliana lives only for others, but Hedda lives only for herself. Juliana is more than a nurse, however. For good or ill, she has also been a surrogate mother and father to George, as he cheerfully admits in the opening of the play. Unwittingly, they turned George into someone safe for Hedda. She can easily manipulate him, verbally beating down whatever objections the docile and compliant fellow raises. She has none of the fear of George that Lovborg and Brack inspire in her. Berta is another selfless woman who finds meaning and satisfaction in her service to others.
Hedda Gabler, Act II
George and Juliana both treat her with affection and respect. Also, as if she were a member of the family, they confide in her, something that Hedda cannot do. That and her overly-protective behavior towards George irk Hedda, who wants to rid the house of Berta and threatens to do so with a petty complaint about her carelessness.
It goads her that someone who seems like such a simpleton has been able to redeem Lovborg from his recklessness and inspire his work. Thea, for all her experience, acts like an innocent compared to Hedda. Thea is, however, both a wholly sympathetic character and unlike Hedda—a survivor. She has devoted herself to redeeming the dissolute Lovborg with a love that he cannot fully return, even though she has sacrificed her reputation in the process by fleeing from her loveless and enslaving marriage to Sheriff Elvsted.
It is her admirable courage and devotion that make Lovborg seem like an arrogant ingrate, someone at least partly deserving of his inept death. Fiero, for Drama for Students, Gale, Hedda kills herself with child: In the same way that Ibsen leads us to believe that in Osvald an artist of great promise is destroyed, ultimately, by the paralysis of mind of his society, so too does the playwright lead us to believe that in Hedda, a person of potential creativity, is destroyed by her upbringing as the daughter of the aristocratic General Gabler.
If the standards prescribed by the laws of noblesse oblige had not prevented her from breaking out into the freedom of moral and social emancipation, she might have been able to turn her passionate desire for beauty which is the hallmark of real, spiritual, as distinct from social, aristocracy to the creation of beauty, living beauty rather than merely a beautiful death.
Essays on Modern Theatre, Doubleday, Like Osvald, Hedda is a potential artist. Alving, she has no true moment of recognition or perception: Max Beerbohm Beerbohm is noted as one of the prominent voices of early twentieth-century drama criticism. You do not catch my meaning, when I write thus? I am to express myself, please, in plain English? If I wrote the whole of my article as I have written the beginning of it, you would, actually, refuse to read it?
The chances are that you do not speak Italian, do not understand Italian when it is spoken. The chances are that Italian spoken from the stage of a theatre produces for you no more than the empty, though rather pretty, effect which it produces for me, and which I have tried to suggest phonetically in print. You will not tolerate two columns or so of gibberish from me, and yet you will profess to have passed very enjoy-ably a whole afternoon in listening to similar gibberish from Signora Duse.
To be really consistent, you would have to pay, without a murmur, that ninepence, and to read, from cover to cover, that Review, and to enjoy, immensely, that perusal. Better still, why go to be bored? All this sounds rather brutal. But it is a brutal thing to object to humbug, and only by brutal means can humbug be combated, and there seems to me no form of humbug sillier and more annoying than the habit of attending plays that are acted in a language whereof one cannot make head or tail.
Of course, I do not resent the mere fact that Signora Duse comes to London. Let that distinguished lady be made most welcome. Only, let the welcome be offered by appropriate people.
There are many of them. There is the personnel of the embassy in Grosvenor Square. There are the organ-grinders, too, and the ice-cream men. And there are some other, some English, residents in London who have honourably mastered the charming Italian tongue.
Let all this blest minority flock to the Adelphi every time, and fill as much of it as they can. But, for the most part, the people who, instead of staying comfortably at home, insist on flocking and filling are they to whom, as to me, Italian is gibberish, and who have not, as have I, even the excuse of a mistaken sense of duty.
Perhaps they have some such excuse. Perhaps they really do feel that they are taking a means of edification. Such, perhaps, is the unsound syllogism which these good folk mutter.
I suggest, of what spiritual use is it to see the highest if you cannot understand it? Stick to your task; and then, doubtless, when next Signora Duse comes among us, you will derive not merely that edification which is now your secret objective, but also that gratification which you are so loudly professing.
I know your rejoinder to that. Her temperament is so marvellous. And then her art! I take it that you understand more from the performance of an Italian play which you have read in an English translation than from the performance of an Italian play which never has been translated.
There are, so to say, degrees in your omniscience.
You understand more if you have read the translation lately than if a long period has elapsed since your reading of it. Are you sure that you would not understand still more if the play were acted in English? Of course you are. Nay, and equally of course, you are miserably conscious of all the innumerable things that escape you, that flit faintly past you.
You read your English version, feverishly, like a timid candidate for an examination, up to the very last moment before your trial. Perhaps you even smuggle it in with you, for furtive cribbing. But this is a viva voce examination: And up to what point has your memory been crammed? You remember the motive of the play, the characters, the sequence of the scenes. Them you recognise on the stage. But do you recognise the masquerading words? They all flash past you, whirl round you, mocking, not to be caught, not to be challenged and unmasked.
You stand sheepishly in their midst, like a solitary stranger strayed into a masked ball. Occasionally you do catch a word or two. These are only the proper names, but they are very welcome. These are your only moments of comfort. For the rest, your irritation at not grasping the details prevents you from taking pleasure in your power to grasp the general effect. I doubt even whether, in the circumstances, you can have that synthetic power fully and truly.
It may be that what I am going to say about Signora Duse as Hedda Gabler is vitiated by incapacity to understand exactly her rendering of the part as a whole. She may be more plausibly like Hedda Gabler than she seems to me. And perhaps I should express myself more accurately if I said that Hedda Gabler may be more like Signora Duse than she seems to me. For this actress never stoops to impersonation.
I have seen her in many parts, but I have never you must take my evidence for what it is worth detected any difference in her. To have seen her once is to have seen her always. She is artistically right or wrong according as whether the part enacted by her can or cannot be merged and fused into her own personality. Can Hedda Gabler be so merged and fused? Her eyes are turned inward to her own soul. She does not try to fit herself into the general scheme of things.
She broods disdainfully aloof. So far so good; for Signora Duse, as we know her, is just such another. This can be said without offence. The personality of an artist, as shown through his or her art, is not necessarily a reflection, and is often a flat contradiction—a complement—to his or her personality in life.
But Hedda is also a minx, and a ridiculous minx, and not a nice minx. Her revolt from the circumstances of her life is untinged with nobility. She imagines herself to be striving for finer things, but her taste is in fact not good enough for what she gets. One can see that Ibsen hates her, and means us to laugh at her. She remains as a lively satire on a phase that for serious purposes is out of date.
She ought to be played with a sense of humour, with a comedic understanding between the player and the audience. Signora Duse is not the woman to create such an understanding.
To what extent is Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler a feminist play? | Perse Studio
She cannot, moreover, convey a hint of minxishness: Hedda is anything but listless. She is sick of a life which does not tickle her with little ready-made excitements. But she is ever alert to contrive these little excitements for herself. She is the very soul of restless mischief.
Signora Duse suggested the weary calm of one who has climbed to a summit high above the gross world. She was as one who sighs, but can afford to smile, being at rest with herself.
She was spiritual, statuesque, somnambulistic, what you will, always in direct opposition to eager, snappy, fascinating, nasty little Hedda Gabler. Resignedly she shot the pistol from the window. Resignedly she bent over the book of photographs with the lover who had returned. Resignedly she lured him to drunkenness. Resignedly she committed his MS. Resignation, as always, was the keynote of her performance. And here, as often elsewhere, it rang false.
There was another, and, in some ways, a better. While Signora Duse walked through her part, the prompter threw himself into it with a will.
It was like the continuous tearing of very thick silk. By a very simple expedient the extra time might have been turned to good account. How much pleasure would have been gained, and how much hypocrisy saved, if there had been an interpreter on the O.
A Reconsideration, Books for Libraries Press,p. This brief monograph offers uncomplicated readings of Hedda Gabler and two other major Ibsen plays: The Wild Duck and Ghosts. It is a helpful guide to interpretation focusing on character, themes, and dramatic technique. Gender, Role, and World, Twayne, Lyons discusses both the cultural and historical milieu of Hedda Gabler, then discusses the play as a kind of mimetic snapshot of human behavior caught in that historical matrix and argues that reader responses should reflect that limitation.
A Biography, Doubleday,