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Hand, N. (2000). Hedda Gabler, psychoanalysis and the space of (the) play. Free Associations, 8(1):64-99.

(2000). Free Associations, 8(1):64-99

Hedda Gabler, psychoanalysis and the space of (the) play

Nigel Hand

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 brings this received reading into question. 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 Winnicott's key concepts, especially as they have been elaborated by Christopher Bollas. The paper seeks to enlarge our understanding of the nature of Hedda Gabler's alienation and despair through a fresh study of the dynamic structure of the play as a whole. I am also intending to suggest 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, p. 12). As a scholar of the Norwegian language and its literature Young writes with at least one kind of indisputable authority.

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