Pursuit of Freedom Depicted in Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and Albert Camus’ The Stranger

Pursuit of Freedom Depicted in Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and Albert Camus’ The Stranger

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One’s own Freedom is what one desires to control the most in life. Yet in both Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and Albert Camus’ The Stranger, Hedda and Meursault do not have this influence over themselves, because external factors force them to live their lives according to the society they live in. In both Hedda Gabler and The Stranger the main character are constantly reminded of the life they do not want through ordinary objects that typically represent life. By destroying them, Hedda and Meursault are trying to gain control of their lives and freedom. Eventually, the character realises that the only way they can truly gain this freedom is by the death of themselves rather than things around them.
In Hedda Gabler, Hedda becomes destructive towards ordinary objects which remind her of the life that she does not want. Ibsen chooses flowers, veranda doors and a manuscript as these objects because ironically, they symbolise life. These objects ultimately lead to the annihilation of her life for she believes death is the only outlet from her pregnancy- which would be the last factor to losing liberty. When Hedda enters the drawing room the day after her honeymoon, her first complaint is that “fresh air we must certainly have, with all these stacks of flowers” (Ibsen 19). These flowers are a welcome home gift from Mrs Elvsted, therefore symbolizing what Hedda does not want to be reminded of: her new marriage. The life of these flowers reminds her of her own new life, which she does not want, because it means becoming a ‘typically married woman’ rather than an independent one. Therefore at the start of the second scene, “most of the bouquets have been taken away” (Ibsen 36). By getting rid of the flowers, Hedda does not have the consta...


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...ting these acts of symbolic or literal deaths Hedda and Meursault are trying to gain control of their own lives again. However, both realise that the only way they can achieve absolute control of their freedom is rather from their own deaths. Camus is conveying the message that one does not need to live by society’s standards to be happy, because it will lead to becoming a conformist rather than becoming an individual. Meanwhile, Ibsen is trying to convey the opposite; that the only way one can find happiness and serenity is by living the way society expects, for if one tries to break free from the system all they will achieve is loneliness and misery.



Works Cited

Albert Camus. The Stranger. Trans. Matthew Ward. New York: Random House, inc., 1988.
Henrik Ibsen. Hedda Gabler. Trans. Edmung Goose and William Archer. Stilwell, KS: Digireada.com Publishing, 2005.

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