Essay on Ibsen Versus Strindberg

5491 Words Apr 14th, 2008 22 Pages
Compare and contrast views of the family and family relationships shown in the plays of Ibsen and Strindberg, commenting on the relative importance in each case of social and psychological pressures, as well as physical environment, and showing how these are expressed in theatrical terms.

This essay will be focusing on three texts written over a three year period: Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler (1890) and August Strindberg’s The Father (1887) and Miss Julie (1888) . In approaching this topic, I have decided it best to confine my study to these three plays rather than attempt an overview of either playwright’s canon. I intend to focus on the relevance of the father in these plays, specifically analysing how the role of fatherhood is
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In Hedda’s case, the audience are aware that most of her actions are motivated specifically by her objective of maintaining a place in Norway’s aristocratic circle. With the portrait of General Gabler already installed in her new house, one gets the impression of Hedda being conscious of her father’s gaze, even from the grave. When in Act Two, Hedda recollects her time with Lövborg always being subject to the watchful eyes of her father, Ibsen provides an insight into the nature of the Gabler father-daughter relationship. Hedda’s upbringing has rendered her highly conscious of social appearances, to the extent where they have a primary importance. It is revealed that this pronounced psychological fear of social shame, drummed into her since childhood by the General, was probably the main factor in her not forming a relationship with Lövborg in the first place when given the opportunity. It is for the same reason that despite Hedda finding herself trapped in a marriage to a man she can hardly stand, she stops short of ever embarking on a physical affair with either Brack or Lövborg, wary of the potential risk:

Brack: …one jumps out and walks about a little bit, Madam Hedda.
Hedda: I never jump out.
Brack: Don’t you really.
Hedda: No. Because there is always someone at hand who –
Brack: (laughing) – Who looks when you leap, you mean?
Hedda: Precisely.
Brack: Oh come, you know!
Hedda: (with

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