By Georgia G – U6
Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler is often labelled a feminist play, but this has not been universally accepted. This essay explores arguments for and against the assumption that the play is feminist; one can argue that it is since its protagonist is undoubtedly oppressed by society’s patriarchal conventions, contemporary audiences identified with her for this reason, and there are reasons to suggest that we can all sympathise with Hedda. Arguments to the contrary are that Hedda is in fact entirely unsympathetic so cannot positively advocate feminism, that Ibsen’s intentions point away from feminism, or that her suffering is the result of her own weak character, not society’s gender inequality. I will conclude that Hedda Gabler is an implicitly feminist play since it asserts that women are primarily human beings, and equal to men in the sense that they are allowed universality, and are not restricted to the feminine. To complete my research, I used a range of critical articles from 1891 (the year the play premiered) to today, as well as extracts from books on Ibsen and his plays. Conscious that a play is about more than the written word, my research includes references to Hedda Gabler productions and the views of actors and directors, again from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.