Women Oppression in Hedda Gabler

1706 Words Jan 16th, 2011 7 Pages
Women Oppression in Hedda Gabler

In Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, the oppression of women in the Victorian era is shown through Hedda’s resistance of those societal norms that limit her to a domestic life. It is fitting that the title of the play is Hedda's maiden name, Hedda Gabler, for the play largely draws upon the idea that Hedda views herself as her father’s daughter rather then her husband’s wife. Throughout the play Hedda struggles to satisfy her ambitious and independent nature within the narrow role society allows her. Unable to be creative in the way she desires, Hedda's passions become destructive both to others and to herself. Although she strives for independence with her masculine traits, Hedda also internalizes the
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A new responsibility, Mrs. Hedda?” (2, 262-264) She does not want to hear anything of the sort and again avoids the conversation of the possibility of pregnancy. She angrily responds to Brack, “Be quiet! Nothing of that sort will ever happen… I have no turn for anything of the sort, Judge Brack. No responsibilities for me!” (2, 265) Hedda does not want another responsibility, and if in fact she is pregnant she is at all cost avoiding dealing with the thought for now.
Throughout the play Hedda is competing with Thea for control over Lovborg. Her destructive envy compels her to push Lovborg, a reformed alcoholic, to drink. This, as can be anticipated, is the beginning of his downfall. When Lovborg refuses Hedda's offer of a drink and Thea supports his sobriety, Hedda laughs, "Then I, poor creature, have no sort of power over you?" (2, 596) Hedda wants this control because she resents the way Mrs. Elvsted was able to leave her husband she was unhappy with and more importantly how she was able to ignore the way society views her after doing so. She tells Mrs. Elvsted after manipulating Lovborg to drink, "I want for once in my life to have power to mould a human destiny… I have not, and have never had it (2, 711-712)." Hedda's conversation with Thea introduces the vine-leaves, a major symbol which expresses her desire for freedom. Hedda has idealized Lovborg's drinking into a rejection of society's restrictions. His drinking seems to her an act of courage, which she…

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