Analysis Of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler

1395 words - 6 pages

The unmistakable dominance of men during the nineteenth century is an influential factor in the establishment of the central theme of Henrik Ibsen’s play Hedda Gabler. Due to Hedda’s lack of independence, she develops a strong desire for control. The direct relationship between Hedda’s marriage with George and her sly, manipulative characteristics is manifested by Ibsen during the work. Ibsen also exposes weakness in Mrs. Elvsted through her dependability on various male characters for fulfillment in life. How do expectations of gender roles in the nineteenth century affect plot scheme and develop a theme of male dominance in Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler? Deeper insight to this connection may be formed from the analysis of various characters’ actions throughout the work.
Growing up in a prominent home did no favor for the miserable Hedda Gabler. Although George Tesman proves to be easily manipulated into providing Hedda with anything she asks for, she is not satisfied with her blasé way of life. The past experiences of living in her affluent father’s household bring about Hedda’s ungratefulness. Miss Tesman invites the maid to “think of the sort of life she was accustomed to in her father's time”, making Hedda’s family background appear to be impressive (Ibsen 2). Ibsen’s description of the hanging picture over the couch of the general, Hedda’s father, ensures the audience of the high social status her family held. To ensure this type of prosperity during adulthood, she selects George as a husband. Marriages based on wealth, instead of love, were very common during this time period, and involved those who wished to maintain their social ranking. Because affection and respect are not characteristics present in Hedda and George’s marriage, the plot transforms into a series of scandals. Suffering from a lack of control and superiority in her marriage to her alleged ideal suitor, Hedda develops into a manipulative sycophant. Her exclusive financial dependence on George forces her to remain in the marriage. Moreover, divorces were highly rejected during this time period in history, and would have made Hedda a less respected person. Her decision to stay in an unsatisfying marriage to maintain a status of wealth and esteem reflects her major character traits, arrogance and narcissism. Furthermore, their marriage successfully portrays the typical nineteenth century Norwegian marriage; the wife is regarded as a child bearer, and the husband is expected to provide income. The third person point of view effectively narrates this play by presenting no biased views and inviting the reader to make judgments on moral and ethical conflicts. The conversational style of writing utilized by Ibsen adds drama to the scenes by allowing characters to share gossip and scandalous information with each other. An obvious protagonist is not created by Ibsen in a successful attempt to eliminate a single type of character being viewed as correct.
Mrs. Elvsted plays a...

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