Essay Symbolism in Hedda Gabler

1689 Words Apr 29th, 2005 7 Pages
The mid-nineteenth century realist playwright Alexandre Dumas wrote the following about his drama. "If…I can exercise some influence over society; if, instead of treating effects I can treat causes; if, for example, while I satirize and describe and dramatize adultery, I can find means to force people to discuss the problem, and the law-maker to revise the law, I shall have done more than my part as a poet, I shall have done my duty as a man….We need invent nothing; we have only to observe, remember, feel, coordinate, restore….As for basis, the real; as for facts, what is possible; for means, what is ingenious; that is all that can rightfully be asked of us." Along with the realist dramatists of his time, Dumas wrote his plays with a noble …show more content…
What he also brought to the table, whether consciously or not, was more subjectivity, as his choice of symbols in his plays says so much about Ibsen himself and his attitudes toward his work. But just as much as purely realist drama is of little help to implement social change on its own, purely symbolic drama does less. Ibsen's gift was his ability to, within one carefully written play, use seemingly realistic speech with unrealistic symbolic language and description to unleash a powerful message. The Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck, considered to be one of the two major symbolist dramatists (along with French poet/playwright Paul Claudel), wrote theoretical essays to be presented in conjuncture with his plays, supposed to offer elucidation to his work. If Maeterlinck felt that an auxiliary disclaimer was necessary for his drama to be understood, then in a sense, it has already failed. Maeterlinck's plays are by themselves unknowable because the intricacy of symbols eventually becomes convoluted and meaningless. An audience cannot be moved if its subject matter is undecipherable.
Above anything else, the emphasis of Ibsen's work is on psychological conflict. Any external action is present only as a response to internal anguish or as a stimulus for it. At the same time though, he goes to great lengths to

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