Individuality And Role In Henrik Ibsen's Play Hedda Gabler

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Hedda is the female protagonist of Henrik Ibsen’s play, Hedda Gabler. She is a woman who is torn by the conflicting obligations of the social world and the internal self. As a 19th century aristocratic woman, her role in society is strictly in the domains of the home. However, as an individual, Hedda yearns to explore her power, potential, and her capability to take action. These two obligations, the obligation to society and the obligation to self, ultimately clash as Hedda pushes their conventions. Her manipulation of Lovborg and her act of suicide are deeds of defiance against the societal expectations of a polite, reserved, and delicate woman. Although her behavior is rash and destructive, the audience can respect her passionate resolve in an oppressive society. Ultimately, her powerful …show more content…
When Lovborg enters, he addresses her with reverence and familiarity. He softly exclaims, “Hedda Gabler!” (Ibsen II). The use of her maiden name and his gentle adoration suggests the memory of a past, passionate relationship, one in which Hedda was comfortable. However, this familiar addressal threatens Hedda’s sense of duty and individuality. Ibsen specifies his intent in using Hedda’s maiden name: “It was to indicate that Hedda as a personality is regarded as her father’s daughter... I principally wanted to depict human beings, human emotions, and human desires, upon a groundwork of certain social conditions and moral principles of the present day” (Innes 107). Ibsen intends to illustrate the confining nature of society. Because Lovborg uses Hedda’s maiden name, he limits her to the strict definition of “her father’s daughter,” rather than Hedda the individual. Thus, the social principles threaten Hedda’s free will. She retaliates by dismissing Lovborg’s forwardness, and confirming that she is indeed married. But her actions are contradictory; although

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