Hedda Gabler

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In Hedda Gabler, Ibsen positions the audience to have some sympathy for Hedda’s desire for control over her own destiny. Ibsen’s historical context at the end of the 19th century has clearly influenced his depiction of the characters and their role in society. Although we might judge Hedda harshly from out present day standpoint, it is important to take into account the expectation placed upon women in the society of the time. Ibsen’s view is that society should change to allow greater freedom for women. The play endorses his views of equality between men and women and the idea of freedom of choice and individuality. The play criticizes interpersonal manipulation and submission of women; showing through the character Hedda, the result such things cause.

The idea of freedom and equality play a central role in Ibsen’s play to encourage the audience to feel sympathy for Hedda’s desire for control of her own life. In the time and setting of Hedda Gabler society places high expectations on women and a limiting perspective of their role. Throughout the play Hedda plays a victim of these expectations and desires freedom from societies rules for women and to be able to be an independent individual. When “Hedda crosses the room, raising her arms and clenching her hands, as if in fury. Then she pulls back the curtains from the glass door and stands looking out” she’s showing her frustration with her separation from the outside world. Throughout the play the glass door is a reoccurring symbolic feature that represents Hedda’s entrapment and lack of freedom. The symbolic feature of the glass door criticizes society’s views of that time because the audience is naturally compelled to sympathize with Hedda’s lack of freedom and therefore lack of control.

In Hedda Gabler, one might suggest that with society’s expectation restricting Hedda control over her own life she seeks control of others. Hedda frequently refers to herself as bored and lacking control of her life...
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