• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Critical responses of Hedda Gabler

Free essay example:

Hedda Gabler – Critical responses to

Hedda Gabler

     Hedda Gabler was published in December of 1890. This work offended many and puzzled more critics, who, as Hans Heiberg found the main character too monstrous, a “revolting female creature” who “received neither sympathy nor compassion.” Just as the work seemed to lack a message, a corrective purpose, the sort of social critique for which Ibsen had become so famous. Hedda’s character was the target of much of the negative criticism. A Biographer, Alfred Sinding-Larsen called her “a horrid miscarriage of the imagination, a monster in female form to whom no parallel can be found in real life.” A figure as complex as Hedda was not suited to drama and could only be satisfactorily treated in the novel. It was argued that the play only leaves us with a sense of emptiness and betrayal. Some Scandinavian critics suggested that the printed play “should not be found on the table of any decent family.” Harald Hansen, reviewing stage productions of 1891, dismissed it in as single sentence as “an ungrateful play which hardly any of the participants will remember with real satisfaction.” Jæger, who had once gone on tour lecturing against another play, had become a pro-Ibsen convert. He saw Hedda as a very realistic, earth-born female, “a tragic character who is destroyed by the conflicting difference in her own character.” “Hedda,” as another person observed has no source of richness in herself and must constantly seek it in others, so that her life becomes a hunt of sensation and experiment; and her hatred of bearing a child is the ultimate expression of her selfishness of the sickness that brings death. she is unable to face or to escape the suffocating reality of marriage and motherhood. That surely is as big a factor in her self-destruction as is her fear of being held sexual hostage to the evil Judge Brack, who threatens to expose her to scandal, of which she is at least equally terrified. She alone is prone to self-analysis, to confessing her fears and dissatisfactions, which, in a different way, she reveals to the two men besides her husband who have pursued her: Judge Brack and Eilert Lovborg. Hedda has no real female friends, or anyone with whom she is either close or honest. In fact, she perceives each of the other women as a competitor. The fact that they seem at peace with themselves strongly annoys her and contributes to her increasing madness. As another person claimed, “the influence of her motherless, father-dominated upbringing is everywhere evident for her action.” Her inheritance reveals itself in her masculine behavior, her fondness for horses and pistols, or her excitement over the approaching contest between Eilert Lovborg and her husband George, or her interest in manipulating George into the male arena of politics, where she might exercise some real power. In some ways, she seems more masculine than George, who is a fussy foster-child of two aunts who is uninterested in politics and is afraid of Hedda’s handling of her father’s pistol. The other women in Hedda Gabler, even those unseen like Diana, have one thing in common with Hedda. They are women who have either failed to meet the male ideal of woman as wife-mother or have rejected it, as Hedda, the least suited to the task, wished to do. They also differ from Hedda in a truly significant way: they have made peace with themselves. And there in, they represent some of the limited alternatives to what society at large viewed as a woman’s primary goal — marriage and motherhood. Since Juliana is a selfless and loving person, she bears the burden with affection, dignity, and grace, all to Hedda’s annoyance. To Hedda, Rina’s death only means that Juliana may become a more frequent and disturbing visitor, even though Juliana confides to both Hedda and George that she plans to devote herself to caring for some other sickly person. She tells them that it’s such an absolute necessity for me to have one to live for. Juliana, a keen person, is simply beyond the selfish Hedda’s understanding. Juliana lives only for others, but Hedda lives only for herself. From Hedda’s point of view Juliana is both a fool and a threat.

      Interestingly enough, it is because Hedda so completely dominates her play that her role soon became very attractive to actresses, and because it proved a great vehicle for the most talented and highly regarded among them, it evolved from its unhealthy beginning into a stage favorite. Hedda’s isolation from society, the everlasting struggle within herself to gain freedom, her cruel terror of humiliation - all generate sympathy for her pitiful troubles. However, an uncontrollable sense of horror is shown from her needless damage of all that was creative and unrealistic - representatives of a beauty that she cannot and will not be able to see or understand. Indeed, what the reader is left with is an ambiguous mixture of emotions which serves to damage the present comfort and simplicity with which many members of society have accepted its grossly unequal power structure of the time.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

(?)
Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature Skills and Knowledge Essays

See our best essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    How do Medea and Hedda Gabler combine tradition and unconventionality within their roles as ...

    3 star(s)

    for Jason, would have forgiven him for taking a new wife if she had indeed failed in the most basic role of a wife: to bear children. This shows the importance of children to Medea's outlook-it would appear that she feels a woman is incomplete without them.

  2. Hedda Gabler- structure of the play and the major characters

    within them, as Ibsen focuses very expertly on everything that is uttered by every character, and every single stage direction that is handled by the actors within the play greatly contributing to the overall psychological aspects that Ibsen focuses on within his plays.

  1. Setting and its influence on the female characters in Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen, ...

    more time in the room interrogating Miranda, she begins to forget she is only playing the role of the commission, and becomes increasingly irrational. Her language becomes filled with profanities, even when she is talking to Gerardo - "I want to know how many times you fucked that bitch."12, and

  2. To what extent does Ibsens Hedda Gabler update the conventions of Greek tragedy that ...

    the God to which the festival at which Medea would have been performed was dedicated. But it is the relationship between Loevborg and Hedda that so effect the outcome of the play, and which causes so much interest. For Hedda, Loevborg is the free spirit whom she can mould, to

  1. Lord of the Flies Critical Analysis

    When Roger, Jack, and Ralph go up to the mountain to check if a beast existed, their primitive instincts caught hold of them which caused them to make assumptions about false things. This effectively ends the earlier ideas of a possible fire on the top of the mountain.

  2. Comparison of 'Rebellious Maidens' withing Ibsen's Hedda Gabler and Sophocles' Antigone

    In the nineteenth century, women were expected to obey their spouse. Devoting time to her children and the household was a woman's main responsibility. The bodies of women were to be fully covered, according to Victorian morals, for a woman's body is considered to be the property of her husband.1

  1. Discuss the use of character foils in highlighting aspects of female protagonists in Sophocles ...

    play - Creon, the Sentry, Haemon - and thus demonstrating her contravention of social customs. The audience, particularly those in ancient Greece, would straightaway adopt a preference for Ismene - the supreme blueprint of ancient Greek women - while disapproving of Antigone's reckless insubordination.

  2. To what extent was President Richard Nixon responsible in the Watergate scandal in 1972-1974?

    He wanted these funds to take care of the party?s deficit. Nixon stashed away a humongous surplus of cash from his 1968 campaign, which was later on used for Watergate, and all the other transgressions linked to its initial cover up.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work