• 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)

    It is therefore feasible to suggest that Medea fully commits to the Greek idea of Oikos and she entirely identifies with the concept that family and lineage is what confers honour and, for a woman, honour comes from perpetuating the household.

  2. Lord of the Flies Critical Analysis

    After Jack separates from the group, Ralph, Piggy and the twins attempt to make a fire on the beach so they could be found, but Jack ruins this idea, stealing Piggy's glasses so that they can create a fire of their own, for food.

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

    As Thea strives to reform Lovborg from a life of profligacy, Hedda "[sneers]" at this idea of "[reclaiming] the prodigal." Their intentions are poles apart: while Thea's is to suppress Lovborg's licentiousness, Hedda's is to incite it. Thea longs to quench Lovborg's self-indulgent habits that she leaves home to save him from "bad influences there are here [in town]."

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

    Only the very obvious becomes known about Hedda, however generally she is not a very clear character. On the other hand, characters like Tesman are clear and opaque and can be read and understood from the beginning because it seems to be that Ibsen wants the reader to see this aspect of Tesman's character e.g.: obtuse, stupid, etc.

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

    Women were very obedient, and followed the rules set by men. Antigone's role in Thebes was a princess belonging to the royal house of Thebes. As a young woman, she must obey the laws set by the king, her uncle, Creon.

  2. Hedda Gabler. In the play Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen chooses to develop his characters ...

    Hedda also recognizes that the reason for L�vborg's stolid refusal to drink, to remain virtuous, as it were, is the shy Thea, with whom he lived for several months. As the final blow necessary to wrest L�vborg from Thea's control and return him to her own, Hedda begins to

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

    But the character of Hedda presents another dimension to the audience, for even though we see Medea as a manipulator, one who is able to shift and adapt her character to undermine and ruthlessly control others, 'Jason, please forgive me for what I said,'3 this is simply all she is.

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

    Carl Bernstein joined the story a little while later when he tried to help Woodward ?polish? his work. Throughout their investigation Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had a lot of difficulty compiling their story and were criticized for their vague or even ?false sources?, every time they spoke to someone

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