Women In Hedda Gabler

Powerful Essays
Hedda Gabler remains one of Henrik Ibsen’s most timeless works as it raises issues still relevant to modern audiences. In Hedda Gabler, Ibsen reveals the stifling nature of the female role within a male-centric society by defining memorable character dynamics that serve to reflect different societal expectations of women in 19th century Europe. This would have coincided with the first wave of feminism. The significance of each character’s relationship is unique to the purpose it serves. In Hedda Gabler, there are three significant relationships that allow Ibsen to establish his purpose as they become symbols of how women interact with the female role. These include Hedda’s marriage to Tesman, her jealousy of Thea Elvsted, and her friendship…show more content…
The jealousy that marks Hedda’s feelings towards Mrs Elvsted is used to simulate the self-loathing in women that stems from the inability to fit into the traditional female role in society. Where Mrs Elvsted is docile and nurturing, Hedda is manipulative and destructive. This creates a jarring effect as the audience can directly compare the two female characters, especially when the audience notices how effortlessly Mrs Elvsted is able to influence and inspire other characters, like Lovborg and later Tesman, constructively while “everything that [Hedda] touches becomes mean and ludicrous” (p 99). It is ironic that while both female characters were feeling unfulfilled, ultimately, it was Mrs Elvsted - a character who fit into the female role completely - who passionately rejects society’s conventions whilst Hedda kept trying to act within such conventions, even though she had made it clear that she was miserable. This further emphasises Mrs Elvsted’s perfection as she becomes socially liberated, though she only does so to remain emotionally close to Lovborg and continue to play a supporting role to him. That is to say, Mrs Elvsted rebelled against society’s expectations only to play into them, remaining committed to playing the female role in society. Nonetheless, Ibsen makes Hedda jealous of Mrs Elvsted’s courage to break the rules to show the audience…show more content…
As Hedda is implicitly forced to be submissive to Tesman, bound to social norms while Mrs Elvsted finds fulfillment and social liberation, and is cuttingly betrayed by Brack, Ibsen illustrates how vulnerable and entrapped women are made when the female role is unnecessarily but strictly enforced by the patriarchy. The character dynamics allow the audience to be more receptive to Ibsen’s messages when he challenges their beliefs about the significance and implications of enforcing gender roles onto women as the audience forms a bond with Hedda as she reacts to these other characters. This allowed his message to be conveyed effectively to the
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