Freud and Hedda Gabler: The Wolf Behind the Protagonist

Powerful Essays
From its very creation until now; civilization has been at odds with the fundamental human instinct. While civilization is just a mechanism used to control the human instinct and place an order so a broader society can function; the basic human is far from controlled. Sigmund Freud in ‘From Civilizations and Its discontents’ suggest that nothing can really control human instinct but rather deter it from its ‘homo homini lupus’(Freud, 1697) nature which translates into man is a wolf to man. This ‘homo homini lupus’ form of instinct suggest a more aggressive side of humans with the tendencies of not interacting with people but merely using people. Henrik Ibsen, through his use of the character Hedda Gabler, illustrates Sigmund Freud’s homo homini lupus form of instinct and uses that as a means of drawing out of the flaws of civilization at large.

Henrik Ibsen always had the persistent theme of placing that one character within the setting that did not fit into the natural societal confines. This was done as a way of showing that what society or civilization was placing upon the people was unjust and unlike a natural human trait. Hedda Gabler, through her exhibition of homo homini lupus or what Sigmund Freud asserts as the natural human instinct, is the fulfillment of Ibsen’s one character theme. Her aggressiveness toward and utilization of others is a prime example of this societal exclusion and a primarily natural use according to Sigmund Freud. One such character that Hedda is constantly using is her newly-wed husband, George Tesman. Though Tesman loves her greatly and married her for the usual reasons (love, etc.) Hedda’s reasons are quite different. She marries Tesman for only selfish reasons; an example of this would be wh...

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...her instinct. Hedda was able to break away from the one thing civilization was trying to control. Freud suggests that “the time comes when each one of us must give up as illusions the expectations…” (Freud, 1697). This implying that at the end of every illusion comes the realization that the expectation is meaningless when conforming to the civilization is just as pointless in achieving. Hedda had the expectation of financial riches but due to the ennui of the civilization at hand Hedda was inclined to escape in beauty or in Ibsen’s theme through the defiance of conformity.

Works Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. Hedda Gabler. 1890. The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. Lawall. [8th edition, vol.2, 1984]:1411-1466.

Freud, Sigmund. From Civilization and Its Discontents. 1929. The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. Lawall. [8th edition, vol.2,1984]:1696-1699.