Women Oppression in Hedda Gabler

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Women Oppression in Hedda Gabler

In Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, the oppression of women in the Victorian era is shown through Hedda’s resistance of those societal norms that limit her to a domestic life. It is fitting that the title of the play is Hedda's maiden name, Hedda Gabler, for the play largely draws upon the idea that Hedda views herself as her father’s daughter rather then her husband’s wife. Throughout the play Hedda struggles to satisfy her ambitious and independent nature within the narrow role society allows her. Unable to be creative in the way she desires, Hedda's passions become destructive both to others and to herself. Although she strives for independence with her masculine traits, Hedda also internalizes the Victorian conception of how a proper lady should behave. Hedda desires intellectual creativity, not just the domestic norm she has fallen into that binds her to a limited social function. Raised by a general, Hedda has inherited the characteristics of a leader and is wholly unsuited to her new role of suburban housewife. General Gabler's portrait keeps him present throughout the play, as do his pistols and Hedda's insistence on being her father’s daughter rather than Tesman's wife. In Ibsen’s time, pistols would have been depicted as male objects. Hedda’s fascination with the pistols shows that she lacks typical feminine characteristics. It’s also important that she refers to them as "General Gabler’s pistols" (1, 801) after Tesman expresses concern of her referring to then as her pistols: “Well, I shall have one thing at least to kill time with in the meanwhile…my pistols, George” (1, 796-799) Tesman shows he has anxiety about the fact that his wife Hedda does not conform to the traditional ideals of femininity of the time. Pistols are viewed to most as dangerous objects however Hedda sees them as just toys; this is very similar to the way that her lethal manipulations are solely for her own amusement. Hedda is...
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