Symbols, Symbolism and Feminism in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler Essay

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Symbolism and Feminism in Hedda Gabler

Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House painted the picture of a strong and independent woman standing up to an oppressive and dominating society; the lead character, Nora, abandons not only her husband, but her entire family, in an effort to discover herself and become a liberated woman. The play is known for its universal appeal, and the strong blow it dealt to a male-dominated society, by showing not only that a woman could break free from the restraints which society placed upon her, but that men were actually quite powerless in the face of a strong woman; Nora's husband, Torvald, is left weeping as she leaves him at the close of the play. The strong feminist themes which were the
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This would seem to suggest that she is a character who will not mold to what society would expect of her, and that she is quite a strong and independent woman. From the start of the play, one can see from the way in which she talks to George that she is most certainly not the quiet and submissive wife expected in that era, but rather a controlling and dominant figure. Hedda refers to her husband by his last name, rather than his Christian name George, and will not pay his mother any great degree of respect; she makes it clear that she is bored by both his obsession with his studies, and those things in his life which he considers as precious momentos (his old slippers). She is unwilling to bow to his authority, though perhaps there is really no authority to bow to. The shortness of her hair is almost unmistakably a sign of her dominance, or her more masculine nature; too many circumstances arise that clarify and emphasize her unwillingness to conform. Just as the masculinity of Lady Brett Ashley in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises was emphasized by her drinking and her lecherous tendencies, in combination with her short-cropped hair, Hedda's more masculine nature is emphasized by other factors as well. An important factor, and one placed very close to her appearance in the play, is the fact that George is a very

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