by Charis Ow
Mr D. Minford
How does Ibsen exploit dramatic techniques to explore the themes of repression and secrecy?
In Hedda Gabler, playwright Henkrik Ibsen successfully exploits various dramatic techniques to present the themes of repression and secrecy through his effective stage directions and dialogues without even having the need to employ the technique of narration and soliloquies.
Firstly, in act 1, Ibsen expands the domestic settings of the Tesmans' home through stage directions by using "a spacious, handsome and tastefully appointed reception room" which has its elegance and aristocratic refinement -reflecting Hedda's aristocratic lifestyle and social class, and gives the audience intimations that characters in the play are people from the upper-class of great wealth and riches. However, it is "decorated in dark colours" - dark colours are connotations of mystery, grim darkness and perhaps to an extent, cruelty, contradicting the first impression that they have at the beginning which indicates the play is likely to be dark, dramatic which at the same time suggests conflicts, tragedy and repression. He employs other stage directions by using various props such as - the piano above the glass door - which contributes in foreshadowing Hedda's downfall at the end of the play where she plays the piano, then shoots herself with the gun, and dies under the portrait of General Gabler as she lost control of her own life of being caught in the bourgeois Tesman circle and values, still in denial of her own pregnancy, and enslaved by Brack - all in all shows that she could not withstand stifling herself any longer.
Besides that, Ibsen also uses the smaller inner room to reflect Hedda's self-containment and her separateness from the others. This inner room is associated with Hedda as Ibsen uses things that are related to her such as General Gabler's portrait, pistols and the piano that are placed in it. The stage direction technique where the "piano has been removed" into the inner room suggests to the audience that it does not "fit" in the drawing room which represents the Tesmans' bourgeois lifestyle. Ibsen's clever techniques of provoking the audience into thinking that Hedda is a woman that is full of demands and wants, however, maybe under the fancy and sophisticated lifestyle that she portrays, lies an essential self that she possesses, waiting to break free from conforming to society's expectations and pressures. This conveys to the audience the fact that Hedda possessed a split personality and has to repress her "true-self" through her cold exterior and composed-self as she thinks it is crucial to act "proper" in front of other people.
In a closer scrutiny, Ibsen situates the stage in such a way that it is overwhelmed with "morning light" and "the sun is...