Herink Ibsen is one of Norway's greatest playwrights. He's referred to as "the father of realism" which is the theatrical practice of making shows seem more life everyday life. Ibsen had a great talent for portraying the drama inherent in seemingly everyday lives. Many of his plays dealt with issues of morality which made them quite scandalous at the time they were written. Ibsen was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature three years in a row.
Feminism in Ibsen's Plays
Ibsen is probably best known for him feminist play A Doll's House but feminist themes occur in much of his work. At the time female characters were generally written as side characters of little importance. When they did play major roles they rarely dealt with the difficulties of being a woman in a society that allowed them very few opportunities or choices. Hedda Gabler is one of Ibsen's more memorable heroines for that reason. The play is a brilliant portrayal of female neurosis. Hedda's choices in the play don't seem to make sense until one considers how little control she has over her own life. Hedda is desperate to have power over something, even if it is another person's life. Even the title of the show can be given a feminist interpretation. Hedda's last name in the show is Tesman, but by naming the show after Hedda's maiden name it implies she is more her own woman than the other characters realize.
Summary of Hedda Gabler
Hedda Tesman and her husband George have returned from a long honeymoon. In their new home, Hedda finds herself bored with her options and company. Upon their arrival, George realizes his academic rival Eilert as begun working on a manuscript again. George doesn't realize that his wife and former rivals are former lovers. The manuscript could put Georges future position in jeopardy and would secure Eilert's future. After a night out, George finds Eilert's manuscript which he's lost while drinking. Hedda rather than tell Eilert that the manuscript has been found convinces him to kill himself. After learning his suicide was not the clean death she imagined she takes her own life.
Quotes From Hedda Gabler
- "These impulses come over me all of a sudden, and I just can't resist them." - Hedda, Act 2
- "Our common lust for life." - Lövborg, Act 2
- "Oh courage… oh yes! If only one had that… Then life might be livable, in spite of everything." - Hedda, Act 2
- "But he'll come… With vine leaves in his hair. Flushed and confident." - Hedda, Act 2
- "Everything I touch seems destined to turn into something mean and farcical." - Hedda, Act 4
- "But, good God! People don't do such things." - Hedda, Act 4