Hedda Gabler

During this essay I hope to realise the response that I would want the audience to have of the play Hedda Gabler. I have to consider the ways in which this could be achieved, through the actor’s behaviour on stage and set design and other aspects such as music and lighting used. When many people watch the play, they may view Hedda Gabler as a selfish and cold person, who has no feelings for anyone, except herself, they could see her as a powerful woman who knows exactly what she wants.

Hedda is commonly played as neurotic, however I would want the audience to also see the over side of Hedda, what is inside her emotionally rather than the cold external front that she puts up, I would want the audience to see her as a lost women trapped by her position in society “Hedda is trapped in a marriage of convenience”- Shipley, and tied by her duties as a new wife ” how much she has filled out on the trip” the expectations that now she is married to Jorgen she must also sleep with him and become a mother.

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This side could be shown through many different ways by both the actress who plays Hedda and the characters which surround her during the play and their reactions and actions towards her. When Hedda is talking to Brack about her honeymoon, she tells him that she did not enjoy it, hinting towards the more tied down and lost soul inside her and that she finds him boring. “It was all very fine for him, But for me! Oh my dear Mr Brack! For me it was horribly tedious”

To show the audience the desperate woman, I would want the actress playing Hedda to show desperation in her voice through trembles and exaggerated words, by clenching and rising of her fists, and the expression of anger and frustration on her face and her eyes to show desperation would show the audience in a very visual and bold way that is simple for them to understand, the other side of the character, other than the bold strides and head held high side, which shows power and control.

I think this would force the audience to think and view things from Hedda’s side rather than the usual response of a cold and selfish character. The audience may fall into a sense of security i. e. That they know exactly how and what Hedda and the rest of the cast think about other characters and how they interact with them, but I would want them to see Lovborg and Hedda’s relationship as a real scandal and shock, this would enable the play to come alive for them.

In order to achieve this I would want the spatial relationships and body language that they have in the beginning to be lose and fairly relaxed, to show a friendship in a high social class, but as the play continues I would want the audience to see the closeness of their companionship through occasional reaching to each other to touch and embraces. Hedda’s death in the final scene will have a large impact on how the audience views the play. She finally gets the beautiful ending that she has been romanticizing over, she takes her own life, shooting herself in the temple as she lies stretched out over the sofa, beautifully.

This sudden and abrupt ending to Ibsen’s famous play, will dramatically and suddenly change the way the audience were feeling towards the social games that she was playing, I would hope that the sudden suicide of Hedda, would give the audience a sense of shock but also of placement, they realise the extent of Hedda’s tortured soul and what it lead her to do, to take her own life and the life rapidly growing inside of her, her child. The response of the audience as they leave the theatre is the one which will have the most impact and lasting effects on them.

If they view Hedda’s death as something beautiful and courageous, rather than one for attention and coward ness, then my hope is that they view Hedda’s emotions over her harsh attitude will have been met. Before Hedda shoots herself, she wildly plays piano in the back room, this sudden noise could have more emphasis if for a few moments before this, there was just stillness and silence on stage, to show that the house is in mourning over Aunt Rina and Lovborg’s death.

The sudden brash and harshness of the piano may be viewed by the audience then, as a sudden and last outlet, an expressiveness of her wanting to be free, it could also be seen as breaking the boundaries of what is the norm (that of a house of mourning is quiet and still) and that she is no longer tied to her middle class lifestyle. The audience may also respond quite strongly to the simple title of the play “Hedda Gabler” refers to Hedda’s maiden name, she seems to prefer to identify herself as the daughter of a general, not as the wife of a middle class man.

Through out the play she rejects Jorgen and his middle class lifestyle, she clings to her honourable past with which her father provided “What a life she had back in the general’s day! ” This may show the audience more of the way that she wants to be free and that the marriage is of just convenience for financial support. I would also want the audience to consider how they view Mrs Elvsted more carefully.

Many audiences may see her as the honest and good stable woman in the play that she was not as “bad” as Hedda, but we tend to forget that, she has been a mistress, and then got married to this man for financial reasons, she then also had another affair with Lovborg and left her husband without permission to follow Lovborg. The audience never seems to pick up that Mrs Elvsted is just as “bad” in mannerisms as Hedda is.

It is shown by 3 of the dominant female characters (Hedda, Mrs Elvsted and Mademoiselle Diana) that they must flaunt their sexuality to survive in the male dominated society. So to accentuate Mrs Elvsted’s character and not to let the audience view her as a side of the stage character, who does not play as much of a part as Hedda, I would encourage the actress, to play her as a more sexually driven character who also uses her charms, I would also have her speak in a direct tone, but still lower than Hedda, as she is meant to fear her.