Essay on Hedda GablerHenrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler
Henrik Ibsen is a famous Norwegian play writer who lived and worked during the nineteenth century. Henrik Ibsen, without a shadow of doubt, can be considered one of the most famous and influential Scandinavian play writers. In fact, he is a one of the “four great dramaturges” of the region together with Alexander Kielland, Jonas Lie and Bjornstjerne Bjornson.
Additionally, Ibsen is generally acknowledged as the founder of modern prose drama. In his work it is clearly seen that he had moved away from the Romantic style, and brought Realism to the drama genre. Ibsen wrote for and about the middle class and life in the big cities and small towns, focusing mostly on the later. Unlike other dramaturges of his time, in his work Ibsen tends to emphasize more the characters and their psychological conflicts than on dramatic situations. The leitmotiv of his work was the duty of the individual towards himself, rather towards the norms of the society.
In my paper I would like to talk about the characters of one of the most famous Ibsen’s plays named Hedda Gabler. To begin with, I would like to provide some background information about the play. It was published in 1890, and was first performed in Munich, Germany, on January 31, 1891. Over the next weeks it was staged in many other European cities, such as Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo. The pinions about the play were poles apart, there were critics who found it absolutely brilliant, and those you claimed it was senseless. Though, those who considered it to be a low quality work dominated and the play was not popular for some decades. However, Hedda Gabler’s reputation steadily rose in the twentieth century. In fact, many imporarnt actresses competed fro playing the main female role of Hedda Gabler, considering it to be one of the most challenging, though essential female roles of the contemporary plays. Today, the play has a reputation of one of Ibsen’s premier works and a milestone of realist drama.
As I have already mentioned, in the following essay I will analyze the characters of Ibsen’s play. Usually, the analysis of the play is based on analysis of its main female character – Hedda Gabler. However, in my paper I would like to focus on the two male characters: Eilert Lovborg and George Tesman, and how their characters represent the scholars of that time. Eilert Lovborg is a talented young man, he is both a creative thinker and genius. Though, he is cursed with an incapability to restrain his behavior. From the beginning of the lay we see that Lovborg is suffering from something he has done in the past. It is pointed out that he did something to disgrace himself and that his behavior was dissolute, though what particularly he had done is never clarified. Lovborg was engaged in a close relationship with the main heroine, however their connection broke off when she threatened him with the gun and rushed him away. Lovborg often finds himself to be depressed and this depression ceases him constantly postpone working on his book. Though, after some time, Lovborg finds a person who can inspire him that is Thea Elvsted. This woman has assisted Lovborg all through his scholarship and writing and prompted his reformation to a “sane” functioning person. With Thea’s moral support Lovborg has published a successful book and is close to finishing its even more brilliant continuation.
George Tesman is Hedda’s new husband and Lovborg’s rival because he is also a scholar. We see that Tesman is completely involved in his work and even during the honey moon trip he devotes much time to his work. He is devoted to his wife, though around her he finds himself uncomfortable and tries to escape to his book as soon as possible. He is uninformed, that his wife is pregnant, a fact that does not get away from his Aunt Juliana. In fact, he also seems insensitive to Hedda’s incivility and sarcasm, as well as her noticeable dissatisfaction and bitterness. Unlike Lovborg his is not creative, while his approach to writing is not to find innovation but is simply collect and structure all that has been discovered before.
Though, it cannot be said that Tesman does not pay attention to his wife because he does not love her, because in fact he is devoted to her. However, George Tesman, he does not understand women and has no demand to do so. He thinks that in order for a woman to be happy she should have a successful marriage and live comfortably in the house of her husband.
Hedda does not love her husband, nor does she really have respect for him. On the contrary, she does possess some respect to Lovborg who is portrayed as Hedda’s romantic ideal. However, Hedda has feelings for the old Lovborg, not the one who is trying hard to control his emotions. It is very painful for Hedda to see that Thea Elvsted has gained control over Lovborg and moreover, brought him to success. She detests seeing that Lovborg is very grateful to Thea and considers her to be his true and only inspiration. When she discovers that Hedda who is not used to losing tries to do everything to liberate Lovborg from Thea’s influence, this at the end leads to Eilert Lovborg’s death.
In my opinion the way Ibsen portrays the discussed above male characters can tell a lot about the scholars of the nineteenth century. It is clear that the scholars of that time are presented by Ibsen as weak-willed and miserable. These scholars seem to have lost their manhood as well as hope to act independently. They try to engage themselves in their work, though most of them are afraid to be open-minded and do not succeed. Those who are stronger and more open-minded than others struggle with the world around them and also, with time, fail, because of the external influence. Looking at the male characters of the play, it can be said that it has strongly formulated feminist motives, emphasizing that in the contemporary upper class society, most men are nothing more than pawns controlled by powerful women.