Courage and Wisdom as an Act of Defiance

courage and wisdom

Hedda Gabler, a character of Henrik Ibsen’s play, is a fictional element of a controversial world of drama. Her image and actions present numerous challenges for consideration and are viewed differently by the audience, critics, and theorists. The current paper focuses on a false representation of Hedda as a woman that should have been more rational and brave. The paper evaluates the perception of the play and Hedda by IMDb critics and argues that the review is inaccurate.

The world of Hedda is founded on numerous conflicts with people around her and society in general. According to critics, they reveal defining characteristics of the woman: her strong will and unreasonable anxiety. However, “she lacks the courage to become her own authentic self” (Perloff & Kitchen 20). Additionally, a story of Hedda’s life suggests that she could follow a different path “if she had more brains” to make decisions and “if she had more courage” to listen to her heart (Alfiehitchie). In the scene, Hedda brutally shatters her dreams when she impulsively acts as an executioner of a manuscript and life of another person as well as her own. The major question is whether such behavior is a sign of fear and stupidity. Thus, it is vital to understand her feelings.

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Probably, the biggest conflict that Hedda has is behind the lines and reflects the inner state and fragility of her nature. Indeed, she has the courage that few people have. She mentions that it gives her “a sense of freedom to know that a deed of deliberate courage is still possible in this world,—a deed of spontaneous beauty” (Ibsen 67). The phrase implies that Hedda considers courage to be a mean of control over life. As a result, to be courageous means to protest against the common notions which imprison the minds of people. Furthermore, in another dialogue, Hedda talks about courage and exclaims: “Ah, yes – courage! If one only had that!” (Ibsen 41). It may seem that she explicitly denies her courage. However, she only admits that she wishes to possess a special kind of courage that might become an act of beauty according to her beliefs. Later, she also explains that brave “life would perhaps be liveable, after all” (Ibsen 41). In this context, Hedda wants to be strong and empowered to defy the restraints of the community’s narrowness “and make a place for herself in the world as wild and as large as her dreams had been” (Perloff & Kitchen 20). Hedda’s courage helps to understand the accepted norms from the inside. It is courage that allows her to act differently. It is courage that pushes Hedda further to challenge her beliefs. She is able to remain strong when others could control her. In fact, she shot herself not because of desperation. She wanted to be free and state her intentions clearly not being persuaded to change them.

Hedda is clever. Her intellect enables her to achieve a social status. As a matter of fact, the most important deeds are rational. Hedda married because she does not think that it is smart to wait for dreams. She reduces naïve expectations for shallow life. Her husband understands it and states that he would not be able to provide finances for luxurious housekeeping and other advantages that she had expected from marriage. The matter of rationality should be considered in terms of emotions. Hedda acts rationally because she does not have one strong emotional component that could influence her. She understands her feelings and tries to explore what they mean for other individuals. Hedda acknowledges that there is no love in her life. This notion is important because a true love could have saved her from the misery of disappointments and frustration. She does not love Lovborg, but she considers him to be an object that is capable of beauty. In this context, beauty is a statement of social and personal freedom. Thus, when Lovborg interprets her fidelity as a sign of love, she glances, smiles, and says: “Love? What an idea!” (Ibsen 38). Obviously, the main character expresses her attitude toward love and the whole spectrum of similar emotions that are popular in the society while she prefers another kind of experiences. She wants Lovborg to show her beauty. It is her rational impulse to demand more. While some believe that if Hedda “had had more brains she would have thought her way out of it; if she had had more courage she would have bolted long ago with Lovborg,” the main character just wants to challenge society and shock it (Alfiehitchie). When Lovborg asks Hedda whether there was love in friendship or any spark, her answer is:

I wonder if there was? To me it seems as though we were two good comrades—two thoroughly intimate friends… As I look back upon it all, I think there was really something beautiful, something fascinating – something daring – in – in that secret intimacy – that comradeship which no living creature so much as dreamed of (Ibsen 38).

Hedda is a philosopher of her own life. She understands that she cannot escape from society. Even if she found another man to live with, she would still face the fact that people are alike and believe in accepted norms. She needs to express a gesture of defiance which results in death. Therefore, she is smart and courageous. Metaphorically, Hedda is a character that writes music of life and dances to this music. Unfortunately, other people cannot follow the lead.

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