Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children

Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children

Length: 1157 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children


Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children present two strongly defined female heroines whose actions not only adversely affect the other characters’ lives but also suggest a fundamental problem with their societies. Both playwrights establish the macroscopic view of society’s ills in the microscopic, individual characters of Hedda and Mother Courage. Both characters have an indomitable magnetism that, on the one hand, allows them to control others but, on the other, causes them to make desperate choices that reflect a repressive society.

Ibsen creates in Hedda Gabler a dominating, fiercely controlling female heroine who controls everyone in her circle, from her weak husband Tesman, to Lovborg, Mrs. Elvsted and even, to a lesser degree, Judge Brack, who reverses roles with Hedda by the end of the play. Hedda, as a chameleon figure, alternately shifts her manipulative tactics to maintain control, and each character cannot stay away from her influence. Only when Hedda has lost control of Lovborg, does she resort to an act of supreme self-control: suicide. Judge Brack believes he has won in his battle of wills with Hedda and believes he remains “the only cock in the yard…” at the play’s end. Nevertheless, her suicide reinforces her superiority because she has claimed the ultimate position of control in the play. Judge Brack cannot assert his lustful intentions through coercive blackmail, and she will not relinquish the power to any character or realization, whether it is Tesman’s loving yet remonstrative pleas or Judge Brack’s slyly conniving wiles. She defines her own role by her self-inflicted death...


... middle of paper ...


...she does choose this role, ultimately valuing profit over her children’s safety. She continues on this journey without her children even as the play ends.

Both characters, Hedda and Mother Courage, express values dictated by society. Though Mother Courage’s actions destroy her family and Hedda’s suicide destroys herself and her unborn child, both characters choose these destructive paths. In effect, they become like the society itself, embodying its values and motivations, its limitation and corruption. Neither Hedda nor Mother Courage possess any real individual power or self-control to overcome a society that forces them to act destructively. Ibsen and Brecht represent society’s power to coerce characters like Hedda and Mother Courage into accepting values that refract social ones as destructive to them as to the society that informs their characters.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

A Doll House By Henrik Ibsen Essay

- A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen tells the story of a woman Nora Hemler as she tries to hide her “secret betrayal” from her husband, Torvald Hemler. This story according to Ibsen is based on a true story which he calls a “modern tragedy” and is set in the nineteenth century, in a highly patriarchal and Christian society when women were treated almost as children. They could not vote, nor handle financial matters; a woman’s duty was to marry, take the husband’s name, and like her children; should be seen not heard....   [tags: Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, Norway, Marriage]

Strong Essays
2293 words (6.6 pages)

A Dolls House By Henrik Ibsen Essay

- A dolls House written by Henrik Ibsen is a required text in most high school English classes, and it was not a big surprise when I saw it on the syllabus for my Women in the Marriage Market course. A Dolls House is a play that takes place in Norway around 1879 in a very patriarchal society compared to today. The overarching theme was the battle between the appearances of someone’s life versus their reality. The difference of what the characters life’s seemed to be like versus what was actually going on....   [tags: Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, Debt, Marriage]

Strong Essays
1099 words (3.1 pages)

A Doll 's House By Henrik Ibsen Essay

- In most relationships you see today, men and women play equal parts. Both men and women work, both help out with the children, and both take the time to rationalize current affairs. Needless to say, there are those relationships where the men are the breadwinners and the women are the trophies. The play A Doll 's House, by Henrik Ibsen, is centered on the war among social lie, marital status, and responsibility. This play is regarding a woman’s need for independence and her obligations to her loved ones and society....   [tags: Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, Norway]

Strong Essays
1568 words (4.5 pages)

Henrik Ibsen 's A Doll House Essay

- In Henrik Ibsen 's play, “ A Doll House “, Ibsen depicts a female protagonist, Nora Helmer, who dares to defy her husband or forsake her “duties” as a wife and a mother, to seek her individuality. “ A Doll House “ challenges the patriarchal view that most people in Norway during that decade thought to be as true, that a woman 's place was in the home. Like many women Nora felt trapped by her father and when the time came she received the same feeling from her husband, however the rules of the society hindered them from acknowledging their own voice....   [tags: Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, Norway]

Strong Essays
1240 words (3.5 pages)

A Doll 's House By Henrik Ibsen Essay

- 136611 A Doll 's house is one of the modern works that Henrik Ibsen wrote. He was called the father of modern drama .He was famous for writing plays that related to real life. A Doll 's House is a three-act play that discusses the marriage in the 19th century. It is a well-made play that used the first act as an exposition. The extract that will be analyzed in the following paragraphs is a dialogue between Nora and the nurse that takes care of her children. This extract shows how she was afraid not only of Krogstad blackmail, but also of Torvald 's point of view about those who committed any mistake....   [tags: A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen, Norway]

Strong Essays
778 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on Henrik Ibsen 's A Doll House

- Picture this: one day, you are walking down the street early in the evening. You see a sweet, elderly woman walking towards you on the opposite side of the sidewalk, carrying grocery bags in one hand and her purse in the other. She looks over-encumbered, but still when she sees you she smiles cheerfully and continues walking in your direction. But suddenly, a man dressed in black from head to toe runs past you and snatches the old woman’s purse right from her hands, and in her surprise she drops her groceries all over the ground....   [tags: Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House, Marriage]

Strong Essays
1137 words (3.2 pages)

A Doll 's House By Henrik Ibsen Essay

- “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen ends with Nora loudly slamming the front door as she exits her husband’s house. Only a few days ago, she had been playing the role of a typical happy young wife. She had realized that her whole life had been playing a role, that she had never truly been herself. Ever since she was a little girl she had been wearing a costume, a pleasant façade to hide what lies underneath. She had been a doll her whole life, a toy to be decorated as their “owners” please. A doll has no will of its own, but that of its “Owner” (Ørjasæter 30)....   [tags: Woman, Marriage, Henrik Ibsen, Wife]

Strong Essays
1100 words (3.1 pages)

Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House Essay

- A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, is a play about a woman who realizes that she is worth more than she has been given credit. Her whole life she was treated like a little doll; too fragile to do anything serious, too frail to be troubled with real business. She was the wife, mother and homemaker. The only things she was perceived as capable of were running the home, raising the children and looking pretty. This was a common stereotype for women in the 1880’s. Women were treated as possessions, not people....   [tags: Henrik Ibsen Doll's House]

Strong Essays
1041 words (3 pages)

Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House Essay

- Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House Ibsens's play is a modern tragedy which functions on two levels, questioning the established social order of the day and presenting the death of a marriage. Both these events create a great deal of tension, and combined with the language and actions used by the characters, make the play very intense. The main cause of dramatic tension throughout the play is the way that the difference between the real nature of the characters and the roles they are assigned by society is presented....   [tags: Henrik Ibsen Doll's House Essays]

Strong Essays
1053 words (3 pages)

Essay about Symbolism in A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

- Symbolism in A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen      A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen is perhaps one of the most hotly debated plays to come out of the 19th century.  The 19th century continued the process of the demystification that began with the Enlightenment.  Because of the discoveries of the Enlightenment, humans could no longer be sure about their place in the universe.  This, of course, had an impact on the theater.  The movement toward realism, which, like the 19th century in general, was an attempt to become more scientific.  Ibsen is considered by many as the father of realism, and one of the plays that belong to Ibsen's realism period is A Doll's House.  But the play would c...   [tags: Dolls House essays Henrik Ibsen ]

Strong Essays
2772 words (7.9 pages)