Throughout the years people have developed an image of how a particular gender should act. In the play Hedda Gabler, the characters that are involved challenge and conform the gender stereotypes through verbal and non-verbal text. The author “Henrik Ibsen” has displayed characters such as Hedda Gabler and Julianne Tesman to challenge their stereotypical gender behaviors.
Hedda Gabler, the play’s main character, challenges the common gender stereotype of a woman by portraying Gabbler as a person who has a thirst for being free. Gablers father, General Gabler is one of the main influences of her behavior challenging her feminine role. An example is ‘Tesman- “My old morning shoes, my slippers look! … I missed them dreadfully. Now you should see them”. Hedda- “No thanks, it really doesn’t interest me”. This portrays Gabler showing no affection to Jorgen Tesman’s slippers. The way Hedda is not interested in Tesman’s slippers shows her little care for affection towards Tesman. This challenges the common gender stereotype because women are stereotyped to be affectionate and sensitive.
Hedda Gabler is furthered portrayed by having masculine traits by non-verbal aspects of her character by having a pistol, Hedda-“[lifting the pistol and aiming] I’m going to shoot you, sir!” Brack- “No, no, no! Don’t stand there aiming that at me.” This quote represents the gun symbolically representing her masculinity and at this point, Hedda using it empowers her and used to gain some sought of power over Brack. The gun seen as a non verbal aspect of the play clearly representing Hedda Gabbler in a masculine way challenging the common stereotype of her gender. The gun, a phallic symbol, is Hedda projecting her masculinity.
The way she always shows the gun, aiming it at Brack and talking about the gun to Tesman alarming him. Brack towards the end of the play blackmails Hedda about the death of lovburg and to avoid he being publically disgraced must tend to the will of Brack, “Brack-“ Willingly every single evening, Miss Tesman. We shall have a very pleasant time here you and I” Hedda – “Yes that is what you are looking forward to isn’t, Mr. Brack? You as the only cock in the yard.” Hedda then kills herself representing her making sure Brack does not get the upper hand over her and gets the ultimate freedom from men trying to dominate her.
Hedda Gabler also shown to hate thought of pregnancy rejecting the common gender stereotype. This is shown through a conversation between Julie Tesman and Hedda Gabler: Tesman – “Yes but have you noticed how plumped she’s grown, and how well she is? … How much she has filled out on her travels?” Hedda – “I’m exactly the same as I was when I went away.” This quote represents that Hedda resents the idea of her being pregnant and will avoid the topic completely. Through this Hedda further rebels against her gender stereotype by not wanting to have kids which all women at that time where expected to have. She further rebels against this concept by ultimately her death by suicide. Through killing herself it shows the ultimate rejection of society’s expectation for a female and projects Hedda’s resent to conform.
Julie Tesman is a character in the play that conforms to the female gender stereotype. Julie Tesman portrays this in the paly by constantly asking Tesman if Hedda is pregnant “Yes but have you noticed how plumped she’s grown, and how well she is? … How much she has filled out on her travels?” which is important because she believes she should be. The fact that Julie Tesman serves Jorgen Tesman implements that she works for men a common female gender stereotype that women work for men. The fact that Julie Tesman will sacrifice everything for Jorgen shows her as mother figure toward Jorgen. Julie is seen as a mother figure, which shows that she is conforming to a female gender stereotype.
In the play Hedda gabbler the author has created characters that challenge and conform to the common gender stereotypes. Hedda gabbler through being portrayed as masculine and always not wanting to be controlled sows how she challenges the female gender stereotype. Julie Tesman portrayed as a caring, old mother figure conforms to a female gender stereotype because of her show of affection, fragility and seen as a mother figure. Through the use of verbal and non-verbal aspects the author has projected these two characters to conform and the other to rebel against the common gender stereotype.
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