Nora and Heddas Struggle for Independence
In Isbens two plays, A Dolls House and Hedda Gabler, one character of each play breaks the stereotype or mold that is put on them. These two characters are Nora and Hedda. There are likenesses as well as differences between the two, however. In A Dolls House Nora is the protagonist, while, in Hedda Gabler, Isben chooses to make Hedda the antagonist. Both Nora and Hedda are caught in a masculine world, but take a different approach to gaining their independence from their male counterparts.
Nora chooses to simply walk away from the problem she faces. This action goes along with most mothers tell their children when they face similar situations. Nora is suppressed by Torvalds words. She tries to help her husband and, according to the author, saves his life. Torvald is unaware of her sacrifice and is ashamed of Noras deceitful behavior. She is finally sick of being called a little skylark and a spendthrift and decides to leave Torvald, which is unheard during that time. The play ends with Nora slamming the door and Torvald mumbling to himself. Audiences react so violently to this ending because it shows a woman taking charge of her life and breaking the mold that stereotypes her.
Hedda takes a different approach to changing the circumstances that stereotypes place her in. Being a woman, Hedda is seen as meek and mild by the men in Hedda Gabler. Her dream is to control and eventually ruin a human destiny, which means she must gain the trust of, or seduce, a human being. Her character of choice, and old flame, is Lvborg. Hedda doesnt escape her problems and run for cover like Nora did. Instead, Hedda takes her problems head on in hopes of changing them for her benefit. Her sarcastic tone and evil behavior make a dangerous combination. The reader experiences this mix when Hedda convinces Lvborg to kill himself. Eventually this head-on approach was too much for her and she takes her own life rather than be suppressed by a male.
Nora and Hedda have two totally different personalities and character traits. Noras can be seen as independent and free willed, while Heddas traits are seen as evil, selfish, and cold hearted. They are the same, however, when it comes to their struggle for independence from the men in their life. In both of Isbens plays he places men is the characters life that causes each one make a decision to go against the stereotypical woman. Nora chooses to identify the problem and get away from it, but Hedda decides to take matters into her own hands and control the problem for personal gain.