Hedda Gabler

Social Power in Hedda Gabler

One of the central themes in Henrik Ibsen's tragic play, Hedda Gabler is the illusion of power among the social classes. To expose this theme, Ibsen creates a powerful and socially privileged character whom he titles Hedda. She represents the social and cultural freedom that was believed to be possessed by those of higher class within bourgeois of the nineteenth century. At the same time, Ibsen also presents other middle class and less powerful characters, such as Auntie Juju, Thea Elvsted and Eilert Loevborg. These characters contrast Hedda's powerful and often offensively privileged character, demonstrating the costs of social acceptance and control.

As the plot evolves, Hedda exploits and manipulates the characters. She exerts these behaviors in order to maintain the social power and prestige as one of higher class. Throughout most of the play her deceptive actions towards power are successful as people submit without question. This perversion twists and wounds Hedda as she comes to realize that she does not have the social power to control those who are inferior to her. Disillusionment of the social system unravels as the reader recognizes that the power lies not among the individuals of the higher class, but within...

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