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Hedda Gabler Essay

1118 words - 5 pages

Hedda Gabler offers diverse possibilities for women in the nineteenth century. The options for married, unmarried and working women are all portrayed throughout the play. The play displays many different women in different circumstances portraying different perspectives on different situations for nineteenth century women.

Respectable unmarried women in the 19th century had little social life; this aspect of society is represented in Hedda Gabler by Juliane Tesman and Berte. Juliane Tesman is the aunt of Jörgen Tesman; her life consisted of serving the needs of her family. There was no prospect of her starting a family of her own at her age; therefore her life was lived to benefit her ...view middle of the document...

Representing this facet is Mademoiselle Diana. She is the demimonde in the play; a prostitute excluded from respectable society. This was another option for unmarried women however, with prostitution came exclusion; if a woman was to pursue such a profession of unrespectability it would lead to exclusion from respectable women in order not to damage their reputation.
Diverse social possibilities existed for married women in the nineteenth century. Thea Elvsted is a model woman for that time; she lives completely for men, and embodies the paragon of feminine devotion. Her devotion for Sheriff Elvsted as governess and later becoming his wife, for Ejlert Lövborg in assisting in the creation of his book, and at the end of the play with Jörgen Tesman putting Lövborgs book back together. This devotion is what was expected of a nineteenth century woman; to live vicariously though a man, and for a man. This is exemplified when Lövborg tell Mrs. Elvsted he does not want to see her anymore and she replies in despair “What shall I do with my life, then?” making the point without a man in her life she has nothing to live for. Even though Mrs. Elvsted is a demure representation of the altruistic nineteenth century woman, she breaks unwritten societal rules in leaving her husband to become a paramour. She leaves the boorish Sherriff Elvsted and gives in to her enamoured feelings for Ejlert Lövborg. This was a very bold thing to do in the time, almost regarded as turpitude, but shows the lengths that Mrs. Elvsted would go to in order to overcome the oppression of her marriage and find love.
Hedda on the other hand, also a married woman was completely unconventional in her marriage. Hedda would order her husband Jörgen around (“draw the blinds my dear will you?”) she was the dominant participant in their relationship, which was unthinkable in those times. However unorthodox her behaviour was in her home, she was still bound by social acceptance; she is horrified of being involved in a scandal. Hedda is a foil of Mrs. Elvsted; Hedda remains in a loveless relationship while Mrs. Elvsted leaves in the pursuit of love, Hedda is dominant in marriage while Mrs. Elvsted is in service of...

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