February 1st, 2014
Hedda Gabler Reflective Statement
Unlike most plays of this time period, Hedda Gabler goes into a new depth in depicting human flaws, character, and emotions. Culturally the play is very controversial with its many isuses. Contextually Ibsen uses easy and understandable vocabulary to amplify the realness of characters, giving them a human quality that we can relate to.
The time and place is also very important. The past industrialization period in Norway displays women as a lesser part of society. Their place was in the household, making them almost confined. People were expected to take on a certain role socially, and those who went against the system were judged upon, their places threatened amongst family and friends.
It was easy to understand the jealousy, greed, and envy of the characters. As humans, we always have a tendency to please ourselves and achieve personal gains. It was also easy to understand the issues of affairs,devorce, and other domestic problems. They occur everyday in our time period, but back the people simply spoke out against them, condemning them as immoral. It was hard to understand Hedda’s choice of escape, especially with shooting herself. Despite being confined to a tighter and tighter role, many options are still out there. If one would calm themselves and take logical actions, these problems would be easy to solve.
I connect on the issue of jealousy. It is a very nasty sin that everyone has dealt within their lives. Some people may be able to control it, but others simply can’t. The love triangle with Hedda can be too much. She is jealous of Thea, Brack, Lovborg, pretty much every single person she encounters. She looks for acceptance and a place in her surroundings, but never finds it. Neverthereless, Suicide is never the answer. The problem of alcoholism lingers as well. My connection to it is the number of failures in our society that drink. However, I am not saying all drinkers are not successful. All the time I see drinkers who are somewhat enlightened under the influence and do great things. Lovborg may have problems, but his habits did help him write the long book with history. In the end, Hedda Gabler brings our domestic problems in a society that refused to accept them.
February 1 2014
An Unfortunate Parallel
The marriages of Hedda Gabler and Mrs. Elvsted are very distinctively similar. Both women complain on and on about their husbands. While Hedda emphasizes that her relationship with George have no common ground, Elvsted’s husband is also very distant. Not only does Mrs. Elvsted seem lonely, but her thoughts had led her to unprecedented action. Thea even said “That’s true. Along with everything else. If the truth be told, I…I-he disgusts me. WE have not a thing in common. Not a single thing.” (Act 2 Page 35). The husbands are very preoccupied within their businesses that barely notice the problems at all.
In order to understand the marriage of Hedda, one must understand her personality. Hedda is full of individualism and never was a nice person. A major factor in her failed marriage is the unpleasant status of women in this post Victorian society. In response to this situation, both Hedda nad Mrs. Elvsted seek answers to solve this issue, in turn distancing themselves further away from their marriages. Hedda satisfies herself by manipulating others time and time again. In her marriage, she often conceals emotion and hide her true motives. For example, she is drawn to idea of being powerful. She always wants to take the upper hand, whether by manipulating Lovborg or by extracting information from her friends. Another instance can be found when Hedda burns Lovborg’s book, potentially destroying Thea’s future. Retreating to her idea fantasy became her only option, but it also sealed her doom. This in turn led Hedda to be a rebel against the social standards she is put against, aka her marriage. Despite all the rebellious actions Hedda tries to do to contain her rage, she never succeeded, which destroyed both her and all the potential her marriage had.
On the other hand, Mrs. Elvsted struggles with many of the same problems that Hedda encounters. Not only does she not have anything to devote her life to, she is also looking for answers for her problems. Thea does not immediately come as an manipulating person, but as the play gradually went on her ability to work with Tesman showed potential danger to Hedda’s marriage. But despite all her feminine ways she still resorted to spending her life in a bad marriage. Like Hedda, Thea never discovered herself. This can be represented in when she solemnly declares “I don’t know what I shall do. I see nothing. Nothing but darkness.” (Act 3 Page 101)
Nevertheless, both women made the best of their situations by entering affair.s This was very difficult to be accepted at this Victorian time period. Although we do not know for certain, it is hinted a lot in act four that Elvsted had mysterious relationship with Lovborg. Hedda, to no one’s surprise, also had relations with not only Lovborg, but also Judge Brack. None of this would’ve happened if the women did not choose to settle for men they don’t love, but fate has said otherwise.
We don’t know exactly why they chose to make themselves more comfortable situations. Some say it was the since of hopelessness and regret in their status, while others believe they took affairs to start a new route in life. This uncommon occurrence is terrifically added by Henrik Ibsen to display distinct social issues within husband and wife relations.
As I hinted earlier, both women behaved dramatically different in their marriages in which they hated. Thea Elvsted, despite being rebellious by abandoning her husband, gradually conform to the environment around her. She changes her attitude by the end of the play by applying her heart and soul to recreate the same book Hedda destroyed, and also by helping Lovborg to write the book when he was still alive. But the outcome left her constantly controlled by the same men. It is as if her husband’s presence still lingers, affecting every little move and decision. Hedda refuses to conform to every pressure of society. She knows it is too late in her relationship to change anything, so she chooses to create her own game, a game full of unnecessary trickery and fatal consequences. The main reason that caused Hedda to stand alone in her high standards was this. She was raised from a high class with a completely different background with General Gabler. Her high standards is impossible to be pleased time and time again. Thea simply accepted her fate, for she has a mellow personality. But Hedda would emphasize her boredom by spreading coldness. Hedda’s obstinate personality never failed to cause harm to others. If you were to look at the situation from another point of view, one could say Hedda behaved like a little child. Children act spoiled and refuses to admit their own faults, and that strongly resembled Hedda.
Many would ponder at how both women turned out, however. Some argued that Hedda was insane, but many other agree that she took her life because of outside pressures. On the other hand, people feel Mrs. Elvsted was the main catalyst for Hedda’s manipulative and self- centered duplicitous actions. So what exactly caused Mrs. Elvsted’s kind new outlook at the stories but also Hedda’s demise? We must go to the beginning where we were introduced to Hedda. She found it extremely difficult to be the proper wife, to balance the power dynamic between men and women, and also to grasp the concept of what is right and what is wrong. She expects so much from her marriage but is thoroughly disappointed in the end. Not only is she not satisfied with her new husband, she hates her mother-in-law by a landslide. By the time she realizes that she married only for money that is set to disappear, emptiness, and loss of control, she decided to take matters into her own hands. What makes it worse is the appearance of a baby. To Hedda, the baby signifies a ticking time bomb to would trap her deeper and deeper in the marriage she doesn’t want at all. She tries to gain power from every way. She tries to bend Lovborg to her will and to free Brack’s grip on her household. (Act Two Scene 1). The pistol gave her a way to embrace power, the power to take another person’s life. When he doesn’t even kill himself to satisfy Hedda’s lust, Hedda realizes she cannot gain a single victory in her life. This is shown when she retorts “Nevertheless, I am in your power. I am subject to your will, your whim. I am a mere slave, a slave. No. NO. That is a thought that I cannot bear. Never.” (Act 4 page 124). She knows she failed and took her life with a bang, using the same instrument that was supposed to free her from the curse of her marriage.
In Thea’s attempt to find her role in life she opened many doors. Thea has many strengths, such as her intelligence, her kindness, her care, and her boldness. It is mentioned in Act 2 that she pretty much wrote Eilert Lovborg’s new book. One major flaw for Thea is her trusting nature that got her caught up in Hedda’s plan. Thea found a real escape when she shared great interests in writing with Eilert. She grew close with him, and in turn found a major purpose. Even after Lovborgs death Mrs. Elvsted thrived in recreating his work, ultimately showing her strength by being the ultimate woman that Hedda never wanted to be. She did what she had to do to get through in her choices. This can be shown when she says “to hell with the rules” in act 3. She also adds “I will not listen. Not to anything.” (Act Three page 98). Weirdly, this part of her resembles Lovborg. The main question that faces Thea is “What will she do now?”.
Both women’s responces to the demanding challenges of Victorian standards bring out a strong contrast in both marriages. Issues such as trust, alcoholism, emotional pain, and true character have been brought out. Knowing possible consequences and problems, Ibsen suggested a new look at problems that still shocks everyone one of us to this day.
Works Cited Page
Ibsen, Henrik. Hedda Gabler. Trans. Nicholas Rudall. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1992. Print.