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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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“My Life had stood, a Loaded Gun”

“My Life had stood, a Loaded Gun”

Agency and Writing in Hedda Gabler

(p.112) 5 “My Life had stood, a Loaded Gun”
Ibsen's Hedda Gabler

Arnold Weinstein

Oxford University Press

Using Emily Dickinson’s well-known poem about ‘female self-portrait-as-male’ as a reference, this chapter examines issues of rage, gender prison, marriage and agency-via-writing. The entrapped Hedda and the play’s obsession with guns—ostensibly owned by General Gabler, flaunted and then suicidally used by Hedda—testifies to a displaced or even ‘stolen’ phallic power, now reconceived as rage. The notion of another male power, writing, is prophetically upended when Hedda burns Løvborg’s manuscript on the ‘History of the Future,’ calling it her ‘child,’: and ultimately also killing both herself and her unborn fetus. Hedda’s story is as much about ‘doing’ as it is about constraints, and so her experience and her acts become a genuine ‘history of the future’: how a caged woman breaks free. Hedda Gabler is thus literature as ideological utterance, bringing a culture’s arrangements to visibility in a way that so-called objective discourse—be it history or philosophy—cannot easily manage.

Keywords:   Gender prison, Hedda Gabler, Emily Dickinson, art, theater, objective discourse

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