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Hedda Gabler By Henrik Ibsen Essay

1127 words - 5 pages

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” (Milton, Paradise Lost). What I believe Milton meant by this is that people project what they believe to be right; therefore, the mind can make heaven into hell if that is what the mind believes. In “Hedda Gabler” by Henrik Ibsen, Hedda is consistently making things worse for herself because she believes she is not getting enough attention; therefore, she must distract them with her petty games just like Algernon fells he must do in “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde. Ibsen and Wilde use props such as a cigarette case, pistols, and a manuscript to help the viewer or reader better understand the characters, their thinking, and their motivation.
The cigarette case is introduced early into the play starting the first trivial conflict between the two main characters, Jack and Algernon. The conflict begins when Algernon refuses to hand the case over to Jack. Algernon, being the annoyance he is to Jack, reads what is prescribed on the inside of the case: “From little Cecily, with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack” (Wilde, 384-85). This is a crucial part in the play because it unmasks both Jack and Algernon as having a double life outside of the city. In the country Jack exhibits traditional Victorian values such as duty, honour, and respectability. Jack’s alter-ego Earnest; however, is used to keep his honourable image as “dear Uncle Jack” (Wilde, 385) intact. Jack’s motivation to leave the county and become the character he created is given to the viewer in his first line: “Oh, pleasure, pleasure! What else should bring one anywhere?” (Wilde, 382). The cigarette case also helps the reader understand Jack and Algernon better by creating an argument similar to a sibling rivalry between them. Throughout the argument it is clear that Algernon enjoys tormenting Jack and that the cigarette case has some importance to Jack because he tells Algernon: “I was very nearly offering a large reward” (Wilde, 384). This develops Jack’s character because throughout the course of the argument it is clear that the case is not as important to him as the inscription inside the case from Cecily, his niece.
In “Hedda Gabler” the pistols are seen as one of the most important symbols in the play by many readers and viewers. The use of the pistols help the viewer understand Hedda and the males in the play. In the Victorian age guns were seen as a symbol of masculinity and playing with guns much like Hedda did was frowned upon by males (Ross, 2014). Many times during the play Hedda is scolded for playing with pistols as if they were toys. This shows that the male characters, more specifically Judge Brack and Mr. Tesman, are traditional and are not accepting of who Hedda wants to be. The pistols are also used to remind Hedda of her father and that she wants to be Hedda Gabler rather than Hedda Tesman. At one point in the play Mr. Tesman refers to the pistols as Hedda’s...

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