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Schatia, V. (1939). Hedda Gabler's Doll's House. Psychoanal. Rev., 26(1):33-38.

(1939). Psychoanalytic Review, 26(1):33-38

Hedda Gabler's Doll's House

Viva Schatia, M.D.

In 1879, Nora slammed the door of her Doll's House to take her chances in the world she had never known; in 1890, Hedda Gabler shot herself “beautifully.” The creator of Nora was accused of delivering a “direct assault on marriage from the standpoint of feminine individualism and was so taken to be a preacher and a pamphleteer rather than a poet.”(1) The creator of Hedda Gabler said that he “wished principally to depict human beings, human emotions, and human destinies upon a ground work of certain of the social conditions and principles of the present day.”(2)

Since it is known that social conditions in Norway did not change much during those eleven years, it may be assumed that Nora's leaving her doll's house and Hedda's suicide were determined by the respective personalities of the two women. A psychoanalytic interpretation of the two plays will be attempted in this essay in order to show the relative importance of environmental and personality factors in the determination of the final outcome in each case.

Ibsen has made such an approach to the interpretation of the two plays seem very logical in that the respective heroines are depicted in similar environmental and emotional configurations. A bare structural outline reveals several important facts, namely: Hedda and Nora were both brought up in motherless homes by fathers who were thus forced to play dual rôles in their emotional relationship to their children; both girls married men on whom they were financially dependent; both women had extramarital emotional ties with unstable men, Eilert Lovborg and Dr. Rank; each was constantly confronted with the ideal woman, Thea and Christina; each play contains the environmental threat in the person of a man, Judge Brack and Lawyer Krogstadt.

Of particular interest is the fact that both Nora and Hedda had been brought up in motherless homes. Nora remained a dependent child who was taken care of by an adoring father but who was never taken into his confidence. She married a man who kept her in a similar state of dependence.

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