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Setting and its influence on the female characters in Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen, and Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman.

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Introduction

English Standard Level World Literature Assignment Setting and it's influence on the female characters in Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen, and Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman. Candidate Name: Rory Dunnett Candidate Number 0102 - 061 Session: May 2010 Word Count: 1539 Setting plays a significant role in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler and Dorfman's Death and the Maiden, as through both the physical setting itself, and the invasion of the setting by other characters in the plays, the female characters - Hedda Gabler and Paulina Escobar, go through a deterioration of character - they become increasingly mentally unstable, and their actions increasingly irrational, which leads to their isolation and in Hedda's case, her suicide. Through setting, Ibsen and Dorfman both show imprisonment, and the effect that this has on the actions and character of Hedda and Paulina. Hedda is stuck in a marriage that bores her. She does not leave the confines of one room throughout the whole play, and is therefore constantly submerged in a place in which she is miserable. This is ironic, as like their marriage, her bridegroom Jorgen Tesman purchased the house on misconceptions and miscommunications, thinking that it was "the home [she] dreamed of, swooned over."1 However later on when Hedda is talking to Brack, we find out that she only said this because once when they were walking past it, Tesman had "run out of conversation." ...read more.

Middle

The sense of Miranda being her prisoner is enforced by the movement of the characters - Paulina and Gerardo enter a and exit freely, however Miranda is tied to the chair throughout, apart from when eating and when he goes to the toilet, yet even then Paulina accompanies him 'sticking the gun in his back.'8 It is being in her own personal setting where she feels safe and secure and can control what occurs that gives her the confidence to try this man. She says to him, "Out there your bastards may still give the orders, but in here, for now, I'm in command. Now is that clear?"9 The invasion of her property by the Doctor acts as the catalyst for her actions. This attempt to control the space is also reflected in the stage directions showing Paulina's movement - they show her to be constantly walking around the interrogation room, and moving in and out of the room. The boredom that results from Hedda's prolonged confinement leads to her morality becoming increasingly worse. The first instance that her boredom causes her to be manipulative is when she convinces Mrs. Elvsted that they are good friends. Hedda does not, and never has felt any affection for Thea- Mrs. Elvsted admits that Hedda "terrified" her and "When [they] met on the stairs, [Hedda] pulled [her] hair." Felt any affection for Thea. ...read more.

Conclusion

At the end, the Doctor still denies what he did, and doesn't repent like she needed him to. The play ends with Gerardo and Paulina playing the happy couple at a concert. Roberto is also there and he and Paulina's 'eyes interlock for a moment,'17 then Paulina looks away. Although she may not have liberated herself through the mental suffering she endured, through not killing him, she frees herself from the savagery that afflicted her torturers, whether or not Miranda was one of them. In conclusion, setting is the driving force in both plays. It gives Paulina the confidence to confront her torturer, however at the same time isolates her from her husband, and despite her best efforts she does not get the confession she is looking for. Hedda on the other hand is a victim of her setting. The lack of control which she needs, and the invasion of other characters suffocates her, leading to her becoming increasingly manipulative, and eventually her death. 1 P.35, Hedda Gabler 2 P.38, Hedda Gabler 3 P.18, Death and the Maiden 4 P.26, Hedda Gabler 5 P.3, Hedda Gabler 6 P.46, Hedda Gabler 7 P41, Hedda Gabler 8 Stage, directions P.22 Death and the Maiden 9 P. 21, Death and the Maiden 10 Stage directions P. 22,23 and 25, Hedda Gabler 11 P.56, Hedda Gabler 12 P36, Death and the Maiden 13 P23, Death and the Maiden 14 P42, Death and the Maiden 15 P.5, Hedda Gabler 16 P36, Death and the Maiden 17 P46, Death and the Maiden English World Literature Rory Dunnett 1 ...read more.

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