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Hedda Gabler

By AnhLy Oct 26, 2014 968 Words

Dear producer,
I would like to remind you about Henrik Ibsen's 1890 play 'Hedda Gabler', a tragic tale of a young woman's struggle in finding her place in life. HeddaTasmen is trapped in a life with a loveless marriage, absolute boredom and a complete lack of friends. Nonetheless, Hedda’s character was the principal target of much of the negative criticism in Ibsen’s plays. She has been portrayed as a viscous, petty, and extremely selfish woman through ‘Hedda Forever: An anti-heroine for the Ages’ by Charles Isherwood in 2009 and the television series of ‘Hedda Gabler’ by David Cunliffe in 1981. These productions’ purpose was never to evoke the audiences’ sympathy for Hedda, which I would like to achieve instead through the ideas of entrapment and the production elements that would deliver this message. Often, members of the audiences will sympathise with one character in a play over others and I believed Hedda deserves our empathy. In today society, people feel trapped by circumstances, by the expectations of others or the perceptions of success. They would like to have a different direction in their lives, but they are held back by the fear that incompatible with that freedom. This is best described Hedda, a daughter of the General Gabler, who has always been admired by everyone in her life. The audiences would able to notice this through the compliments for Hedda from other characters such as Aunt Julle when asked by Jorgen to look at how nice and charming Hedda is. Aunt Julle praised, “Ah, my dear, there’s nothing new in that. Hedda has been lovely all in her life.” These praises are what making Hedda feels trapped because she is not like what others think she is. She grew up to be less feminie and tougher than other women due to the lack of a female role model but instead with a strong man figure. This would be shown through a portrait of the General hanging in the middle of the stage, as a reminder of his influences. Hedda doesn’t want to become a typical woman that society has defined. Thus I would like to make it clear to the audiences that rather than saying she dreams of controlling another’s destiny it is more of that she wants to influence and inspire those in her life just like what her father did. Therefore, instead of emphasising her tactless and careless behaviours which caused the audience to misjudge that she is a manipulative, selfish and jealous woman. I would like the audiences to show compassion towards her as she acts the way she does since the expectations of society for a woman has trapped her in a loveless marriage. At this point, we can also identify her situation of entrapment in her life, making it easy for the audience to be sympathetic towards her. When Hedda is sitting with Lovborg and Mrs. Elvsted, she wants Lovborg to have a glass of punch, which he deliberately refuses. She replies with 'So I, poor thing, have no power over you at all?' This direct speech has shown her inability to empower someone as she cannot even convince a man to drink a glass of punch. No matter what in the world she does, she has no influence on anyone. For this, the audience feels sorry for her as her desperation to have an influence on someone continues to be depleted to the extent where she cannot even get someone to have a drink. Clearly, direct speech is an effective way to reach the hearts of an audience. Moreover, the settings would also largely contribute to the audiences understanding of Hedda's hopelessness and entrapment. In the beginning of Act 3, before any dialogue, a description of an eerie setting is given “The curtains across the middle doorway are closed as are the curtains in front of the glass door.” This physically demonstrates the narrow vision that Hedda has in her life and hence represents the ideas of entrapment. Hedda Gabler is known as an unlikeable character, and yet there is something about her that still appealing to contemporary audiences. This is because she is a mysterious timeless character, who would teach the audiences to think of the consequences before they act. Due to her thoughtless action of burning the ‘child’ that born from Lovborg and Mrs. Elvsted’s love and affection for each other, she has caused both pains for herself and for others. She has found herself under Judge Brack’s power and how Mrs. Elvsted is working with Tesman in the same way that she worked with Lovborg. This crucial moment in the play is where the audience realises Hedda's extremely unfortunate life and therefore sympathises with her. People who get trapped in the tunnel vision think that it is all there is to life and this would be Hedda’s state of mind as she struggles to get out of the trap. All she ever wanted was to be free. It is sad and incredibly ironic to the audience to think that committing suicide is the only way to achieve this. This short, simple yet important stage direction reveals Hedda's desperation for freedom and how she is willing to do anything to achieve it. Subsequently, the audiences would sympathise with her for the fact that she has no real hope in life or anything to desire to in the entire world. Overall, my purpose of representing Hedda Gabler is to clarify the idea of entrapment that would change the audiences’ perspective of Hedda from an anti-heroin to a poor woman who struggles to set free and yet deserves our sympathy. I would achieve this by the uses of production elements such as setting and stage direction as well as my own interpretation and understanding of this complex character, Hedda Gabler.

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