Paper 2 Critical Introduction to Hedda Gabler

Paper 2 Critical Introduction to Hedda Gabler - Critical...

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Critical Introduction to Hedda Gabler William Hodgkins PID: 720000906 Drama 116 Section 002 I, William Hodgkins, have neither given nor received any unauthorized help on this paper. Hedda Gabler, a famous 19 th century tragedy by Henrik Ibsen, is a socially reflective work that addresses issues relevant both in today’s society and in society 100 years ago. Written in 1890 and first performed in 1891, Hedda Gabler brings to question many social customs and internal dilemmas of the 19 th century. Ibsen, who is infamous for raising challenging questions but failing to include their answers, uses his plays to expose many social problems of his day. Furthermore, writing during a period where special effects and the “well-made play” dominated
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William Hodgkins November 15, 2010 Drama 116 720000906 live theater, Ibsen sought to instead rely on complex characters and controversy to keep his audiences entertained. Considering all of this, readers are able to take a look at one of the most prominent and versatile writers in theater history. Ibsen’s plays are full of issues that challenge the practices of society and raise many controversial questions. One of the most prevalent social themes throughout Hedda Gabler, as well as at the time at which it was written, is the role of women and society. During the late 19 th century women’s roles in society consisted mainly of household chores and raising children. Women were expected to obey their husbands or the man of the house, and follow their instructions. However, throughout this play Ibsen develops Hedda as a masculine woman that clashes not only with this stereotype, but also defies many other traditional roles in society. For example, Hedda was raised by her wealthy father, a well respected general, and enjoys guns and horseback riding. Furthermore, Hedda seems to be dreading the birth of her child, repeatedly displays little interest in the future of her marriage, and is focused primarily on obtaining social prominence. One can speculate that the absence of Hedda’s mother (her mother is seldom mentioned throughout the play) is a possible cause for her masculinity, and that Hedda was raised more as the optimal son of her well respected father. This speculation also explains Hedda’s motivation to be a part of a primary social circle and have costly material possessions, like those of Judge Brack. As a result, Hedda possesses the mindset to be a prominent, respected male citizen but lacks the feminine values needed to be an effective wife and mother, especially during the 19 th century. As unique as the character Hedda is, she is in many ways very similar to Henrik Ibsen himself. Born in 1828 in Skien, Norway, Ibsen was brought up in a well off and historically prominent Norwegian family very similar to Hedda’s. At the early age of 7, Ibsen’s family fell
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William Hodgkins November 15, 2010 Drama 116 720000906 into financial ruin as a result of his father’s failed business ventures, and by the age of 15 Ibsen
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This document was uploaded on 10/29/2011 for the course DRAM 115 at UNC.

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Paper 2 Critical Introduction to Hedda Gabler - Critical...

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