Symbolism In Ibsen's Hedda Gabler

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Ibsen is believed to be the “master” of symbolism. (Styan, 1981). In Hedda Gabler, Ibsen uses symbolism to portray the internal chaos and disorder of his protagonist. Ibsen often deals with the conflict with the internal self. (Watson, 1983) Ibsen gives a new, symbolic and deeper meaning to ordinary objects such as a room, fire, the manuscript, Thea’s hair and the pistol. Each of these objects signifies a different element of Hedda’s character. Styan discusses how these symbols are integrated with the most complex character studies Ibsen had yet achieved. Ibsen explores how females are symbolically imprisoned by tradition and the wrongs of society. The Tesman home is used as a metaphor to show Hedda’s entrapment within a middle-class reality. The suffocating and distressing way in which Hedda lives her life with her new husband proves she has lost all notion of herself as free and proud. (Watson, 1983) The atmosphere in the Tesman home is characterized…show more content…
Hedda Gabler has a clear relation to the famous pistols. (Williams, 1993) They symbolize Hedda’s upbringing in an aristocratic and militaristic background and stand for her masculine nature. The pistols represent Hedda’s intense desire to be less feminine as well as the male world that opposes her. These two things at once indirectly lead to her death, and the pistols quite literally kill her. Through Hedda’s attitude toward and uses of the pistols, Ibsen constantly reminds us that Hedda “is to be regarded rather as her father’s daughter than as her husband’s wife.” The pistols serve as a constant reminder that she is Hedda Gabler still and not Hedda Tesman. The pistols represent an important characteristics the father has passed to Hedda—a desire to have absolute control over others. (McFarlane, 1989) Hedda enjoys freedom, the freedom to socialize with different people and have absolute control over them. (Habeeb,
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