Hedda Gabler

‘Composers contextual concerns are explored and reflected in the texts they create’

Discuss how the prescribed texts are a reflection and exploration of contextual concern
Historical contexts significantly influence composers; to an extent where their contextual concerns are explored and reflected in the texts they create. This is evident through the characters of Hedda in Hedda Gabler and Esther in the Bell Jar, where Ibsen and Plath explore the duality (the divided self) of women in their social contexts. They also depict the social, cultural and political expectations of women, establishing the suffocative limitations of these on one’s life.

Written in 1890, Ibsen wrote Hedda Gabler at an interesting time in European history, where woman the term ‘new woman’ was beginning to emerge to describe those who were ‘pushing against the limits which society had imposed on them. While the new woman sought self-determination and freedom as well as equality with men and a true understanding of female sexuality, the ‘old woman’ believed in self-sacrifice, her duty to her husband and sexuality only in terms of childbearing.

From an external perspective, it may be concluded that Hedda is that of an ‘old woman’, however as we further come into terms with her character, the inner person within becomes apparent, depicting elements of the ‘new woman’ who is masked by the conventional public persona. Hedda is a prime example of a woman who finds no satisfaction in liberation. Her inner frustration regarding her powerlessness and dependency is represented through the recurring image of her looking out the glass door. In itself, the glass door presents only a tenuous, easily breakable barrier between her entrapment and the outside world. She yearns for freedom to catch a ‘glimpse of the world one isn’t supposed to know about’, but this transparent barrier confines her.

The constant images of her ‘walking nervously’ across the enclosed, claustrophobic space of the...