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

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World Literature Assignment                                        Jacqueline Tranvan

Word Count: 1, 580

The presentation of “rebellious maidens” in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and Sophocles’ Antigone

In Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and Sophocles’ Antigone, the main characters are “rebellious” and do what is not expected of them. Hedda and Antigone are rebellious in respective ways depending on what is accepted by society, the viewers’ ideals at the time, and the law that governed the people.

Considering the expectations that each woman has, Antigone and Hedda are “rebellious maidens”. The word “rebel” is usually used to describe someone who resists authority, whereas “maiden” is applied to a young unmarried woman, hinting that a “maiden” is innocent and pure. From the audiences’ view, in the play Antigone, Antigone is rebellious in a way for she goes against Creon’s order but is reasonable. For her action of burying her brother is justified. “You cannot mean … to bury him? Against the order?”… “I will bury my brother”(Antigone, Exodus 44 and 66). Though Antigone goes against the law, from the reader’s perspective, her actions are right because it is taught in her culture that when dead, the body needs a proper burial. Without a proper burial, the person cannot move on to the next world and is stuck on Earth as a ghost. It is crucial that her brother is given a proper burial.

In Hedda Gabler, Hedda acts rude and superior to those around her as her position as an aristocrat allows her to do so. From the audiences’ point of view, Hedda is a woman who is malicious but at the same time fascinating. When talking to Mrs. Elvsted, Hedda’s old rival and classmate, Hedda says, “I think I’ll burn your hair off after all!” (Hedda Gabler, Act 2, 271) This comment from Hedda seems cruel, yet it is tolerable for Hedda to do such a thing because her role as an aristocrat permits her to.

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In each society, a woman plays a particular role, depending on her position. During the ancient Greek civilization, Theban women did not have as many rights as men, who were more privileged. 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. When a crime is committed in Thebes, it is assumed automatically that the crime is carried out by a male, for the thought of an innocent ...

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