Beauty and the Power of Words in Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen Essay

Beauty and the Power of Words in Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen Essay

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Hedda Gabler as a character speaks against the patriarchy of 19th century Europe through her desire for beauty, her power of over words, and her silence. During the first matinee performances in London in the early 1890’s, one of the women who watched the performance exclaimed, “Hedda is all of us” (Moi 436). In a society constructed by men, Hedda Gabler take the lead role in the story named after her. Henrik Isben gave Hedda’s character a sense of power in entitling the work after her. It forces the reader to recognize Hedda as a person of her own rather than as the general’s daughter or Tresman’s wife. Furthermore, in keeping her maiden name, Hedda defies society’s norms and keeps to her own identity. At the time, it was almost unheard of for a woman to be referred to by her maiden name after marriage. Henrik Isben states, “The title of the play is Hedda Gabler. My intention in giving it this name was to indicate that Hedda as a personality is to be regarded rather as her father's daughter than as her husband's wife. It was not really my intention to deal in this play with so-called problems. What I principally wanted to do was to depict human beings, human emotions, and human destinies, upon a groundwork of certain of the social conditions and principles of the present day” This signifies that she is not a possession but instead re-iterates the idea that she is her own person (Nehemiah 50).
The admiration of beauty by Hedda is not just that but also the admiration of freedom. Her concept of beauty is one that is not tied to monetary things; instead, Hedda longs for the better things in life. For example, in the text, she tells Judge Brack that she did not care about the house that her husband worked so hard for, often worryi...


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... into silence, Hedda Gabler’s character works against the ideals for women in late 19th century European society. Hedda’s desire for beauty was more complex than met the eye; she desired the things in life that money could not give her such as enlightenment and truth. Hedda desired to have a power over words prospectively because she had no other power in society. However, she eventually retreated into silence as did other women of the late 19th century in Europe. Hedda’s suicide can be considered one of beauty because it is her ultimate act of freedom. In killing herself, she takes back all the power that the male-dominated society had on her. One can even say that women watching this play in the 19th century European society may have felt so connected to her because they realized that they, too, can be liberated from the society that had forced them into silence.

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