Portrayal of Hedda Gabler

The 19th century, or Victorian Era, was a time in history when the gap between the roles of men and women were greater than ever. Women were constrained to their houses and carried out domestic duties, whereas men lived in a starkly different world of working outside and attending social events. In his play, Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen reveals that he dislikes the oppression of women in this time period through his powerful portrayal of Hedda Gabler. Additionally, Hedda’s constricted life and eventual destruction call to attention the damaging effects of Victorian society on females.

Ibsen’s decision to create Hedda as a strong, captivating woman, and even make her the main character and focus of his play, shows his support of women who pushed the restrictions that society placed on them. Hedda is nothing like the conventional thinly drawn female common in literature at the time. Victorian society deemed that the ideal woman is one that is pure and pious.

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Hedda, however, is quite cruel and has the ability to control everybody in her life, even the men. By using only her intelligence and manipulation, she single-handedly ruins a man’s entire life when she gets Eilert to drink again and then commit suicide. The norm of women being submissive and adhering to their husband’s every command is completely shattered through Hedda’s terrible actions and treatment of George Tesman, her husband.

Hedda constantly mocks and ridicules George, sarcastically calling him a “specialist” and blatantly telling him how she doesn’t care about the slippers that he cherishes.

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She certainly does not comply with whatever he asks for since she doesn’t agree to call his Aunt “du” and refuses to come with him to visit Aunt Rina. This headstrong character is the center of attention in the entire play; Ibsen makes sure of it. She is in almost every scene, and in every scene, she grabs the reader’s attention, making them wonder how far she will go. Despite her heinous actions throughout the play, readers are more drawn to Hedda than any other of the other females. Thea and Aunt Julia, both women who are conforming and less outspoken, are seen in the reader’s eyes as foolish and overbearing due to Ibsen’s portrayal of them. Ibsen’s views on feminism and how women should be is reflected in the depiction and level of importance he gives Hedda.

Despite being so non-conforming, Hedda was still confined by most of the societal expectations of women at the time, like staying at home all day. Due to this, she struggled to find meaning in her life and resorted to manipulating people for her amusement, as there is nothing else for her to do. She wanted to find out about the world that is forbidden to her, man’s world, which she tries to experience through Eilert and his stories. However, near the end of the play, Ibsen makes it so that she realizes there is no scenario in which she can be free, and this leads to her killing herself. What Hedda goes through in the play is what many women went through at the time. Women could not discover themselves and take part in any social events, especially higher class women like Hedda. They were shadows of their husbands. Hedda’s destruction highlights how detrimental all the rules and regulations placed on women in the 19th century could be. This is actually why women began to stand up and protest for their rights around this time period as well.

Ibsen’s portrayal of Hedda as an intelligent, powerful woman at a time when society was dominated by males and women were expected to be submissive shows the readers his viewpoint on females, which was that they could and should be strong forces to be reckoned with. He writes the play so that Hedda is more favored by the readers than any of the other characters, and he also makes sure she is the center of attention. However, Hedda was still tied down by society, and her struggle to find an identity for herself reveals how exactly Victorian society affected women.

Cite this page

Portrayal of Hedda Gabler. (2022, Feb 11). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/portrayal-of-hedda-gabler-essay

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