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Ibsen's Hedda GablerPhilosophical Perspectives$
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Kristin Gjesdal

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190467876

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190467876.001.0001

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Two Pistols and Some Papers

Two Pistols and Some Papers

Kierkegaard’s Seducer and Hedda’s Gambit

(p.194) 9 Two Pistols and Some Papers
Ibsen's Hedda Gabler

Fred Rush

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates the modernist credentials of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler by considering the title character as an example of what Kierkegaard in Either—Or calls an “aesthetic” agent. Kierkegaard did not influence Ibsen in the writing of the play; rather, the claim is that the portrayal, especially of the extremely reflective aesthete of the “Seducer’s Diary,” is a formidable lens through which to view Hedda’s agency as a form of radical subjectivity. After establishing needed background in both the reception of the play and in Kierkegaard’s treatment of the seductive aesthete, the chapter discusses in detail two main scenes in the play: Hedda’s burning of Løvborg’s papers and the provision of her pistols to him and, finally, to herself. The chapter concludes with an argument that the play’s treatment of unhinged subjectivity is the most radical in the Ibsen canon, able to pass any test of high modernism.

Keywords:   Ibsen, Kierkegaard, Either-Or, free will, Bergman, Strindberg, aestheticism

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