Plight Of The Wives: The Role Of Wives In Ibsen's Dollhouse And Hedda Gabler

1071 words - 4 pages

A dramatist living in a society centered around social standards, Henrik Ibsen produced plays about his world as he saw it. With plays such as "The Doll House" and "Hedda Gabler," Isben gave audiences of the future a look into aspects of nineteenth-century Norwegian middle class life -- particularly the life of a married couples. In each of these two plays, individual couples are faced with trivial issues of great importance.Each marriage possesses it's own circumstantial challenges and characteristics yet despite these differences each are plagued by one central plight: a wife's struggle to escape the grip of society.In order to understand the plight of Hedda and Nora, one must examine the society in which they lived. The era was that of comfort and stability. Large parts of the society were indulging in the lavishness of aristocracy or enjoying the comfort of the middle class. These were stable times, and those enjoying them wanted life to stay this way. To the Norwegians of the time, female motivated divorce was unheard of.Many of the other themes and actions which take place in Ibsen's plays were considered outlandish and because of this, Ibsen's work was often faced with firm opposition. In retrospect, the challenges Ibsen faced now help solidify and illustrate those placed before Hedda and Nora.Despite the similar hurdles Hedda and Nora face, the central setup and function of their marriages possess substantial differences, the most notable of which can be found when observing the female's roll in each marriage. In "A Doll House," Torvald and Nora Helmer barely communicate in a civil manner. Torvald constantly addresses Nora as his "squirrel" (44) and other pet names which carry with them condescending overtones. Torvald wishes to live the life of a middle class Norwegian male and Nora initially supports his wishes by acting as his docile counterpart. The relationship that exists in this marriage is one of anything but equality. Nora, who understands Torvald from the beginning, is compelled to serve as his doll until she is forced to escape from her mundane lifestyle.In the Tesmond's marriage, a drastically different relationship can be observed. Here, a wife with an insatiable lust for power is bound to a man she no interest in. While her husband is buried in text, she remains trapped in a home she despises, bored and longing for the freedom that she once had. Their relationship possesses a form of equality that is absent in the Helmer's. Hedda has much more control over her husband as it is in her nature. Due to her lack of interest, Hedda constantly confronts Tesmond with an attitude that would be unthinkable in Nora's case. It often seems as if Hedda is the superior in her relationship with Tesmond. Tesmond, who constantly has his mind focused elsewhere, never assumes a powerful position in his relationship with Hedda. As a result, he remains oblivious throughout the play to Hedda's complexity and apparent problems.Although these...

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