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Hedda Gablers Struggle Between Masculinity and Femininity Henrik Ibsen portrays Hedda Gabler as a nineteenth century woman in conflict with herself Because of her unique upbringing under General Gabler and the social standards imposed upon her as a woman Hedda exhibits both masculine and feminine traits that are characterized by her actions throughout the play Hedda is faced with the impossible feat of trying to live with these opposing traits The male role she embraces in her marriage to Tesman her desire for power over Thea and Lovborg and her use of her fathers pistols conflict with her role as a perfect wife that Hedda must have in this male-dominated society Because it is impossible for Hedda to clearly choose between the male and female sides of her life she tries to live a dual role by keeping her male beliefs and actions hidden Many times she does not speak openly nor does she act in a manner that completely reveals the duality of her life However the final acts of the play reveal that these attempts to work out a compromise between her wish to behave as a male and her wish to conform to expectations of her as a woman will never work as she wants it to Thus Hedda kills herself rather than live a life that is not truly her own Early in the play Ibsen is able to demonstrate Heddas masculinity and the problems that arise in her associations with her new husband Hedda displays no emotion or affection towards this man This outward show of apathy is a trait that is usually common to men who must stoically face any battle that arises An example of this is when Tesman yelps with joy when Aunt Julie gives him his old slippers Though Aunt Rina had made them for Tesman a long time ago Hedda cold and calculated plays the role as a man and does not take to
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