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Word Count: 11,202
The established view of Hedda Gabler sees the play as a study of the frustration and despair engendered in the exceptional individual by a conventionalised society In this paper I present a psychoanalytic re-interpretation of the play which in certain respects inverts this received reading Insofar as it does so however my interpretation is intended not to cancel the received view but to play against it The first section of the paper is predominantly Freudian in approach The second section takes up certain Kleinian ideas which are broached in the first and explores them more fully The third section exploits some of Winnicotts key concepts especially as they have been elaborated by Christopher Bollas The paper seeks to enlarge our understanding of the nature of Hedda Gablers alienation and despair through a fresh study of the dynamic structure of the play as a whole I am also suggesting that Ibsen should be seen as a major precursor both of Freud and the object-relations tradition in psychoanalysis SECTION I - THE FIGURE IN THE CARPET INTRODUCTION - IBSEN AND PSYCHOANALYSIS Ibsen did not write or think as a Freudian writes Robin Young in the Preface to his study of the dramatist 1989 p12 As a scholar of the Norwegian language and its literature Young writes with at least one kind of indisputable authority Unsurprisingly he asserts that Ibsen can only be understood in the context of the Norwegian literary culture he grew up with - and in this respect Youngs book makes interesting reading especially in its provocative contention that Ibsen was in many respects an anti-Romantic But if there is one truth which has emerged clearly from the age of theory it is that no text can be finally enclosed in a single defining and exclusive context and of this truth Robin Youngs book provides striking illustration for in reality both his general approach to Ibsens plays and his detailed interpretations of them would be
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