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Use of Theme, Setting, and Time in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler

Use of Theme, Setting, and Time in Hedda Gabler

Hedda Gabler, by Henrik Ibsen, is a work about a woman who manipulates the fates of others in order to fulfill her own desires. The title character is a woman who has recently returned from a six month “honeymoon” with her groom, Tesman, a man whom she does not love. She yearns for freedom, but she feels as if she cannot leave her marriage. To occupy her time, she manipulates the lives of everyone around her. Hedda kills herself after becoming engorged in her own manipulations. Through the use of theme, setting, and time period, Ibsen produces a work that uniquely portrays the sources of the motivations of this manipulative woman.

Whether it be the burning of her former love’s manuscript or supplying him with the pistol to shoot himself, Hedda’s malevolence shows the ability of man to have total disregard for the life of another. Hedda coldly manipulates the lives of everyone around her. Through these manipulative actions, she ruins the lives of all of her acquaintances. Because she is not happy in her marriage, she attempts to forbid anyone else to live a content life. For example, after she persuades Eljert Lövborg to consume alcohol, he ruins his reputation and loses something that is most precious to him: the manuscript of a book that he had been writing with Mrs. Elvsted. Although Hedda realizes the importance of this manuscript to both Lövborg and Mrs. Elvsted, she chars it. Because Lövborg and Mrs. Elvsted have put their souls into this manuscript, Hedda metaphorically relates her action to burning their child. This cold thoughtlessness demonstrates Hedda’s disregard for the life of a fellow human being. Hedda’s actions ultimately lead to her demise. After giving …

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…nnot manipulate her own life. She does not want to remain in her marriage, but she lacks the courage to get out of it. Because of the times and her situation, she feels that she cannot leave her husband. It seems as if these manipulations are a sick form of entertainment for Hedda. One could regard this play as a purely feminist work or as the story of a woman who has no regard for human life. In either way in which it is regarded, Ibsen realistically portrays the motivations of Hedda Gabler through his use of theme, setting, and current events.

Works Cited

Hemmer, Bjorn. “The dramatist Henrik Ibsen.”

Ibsen, Henrik. Four Major Plays: A Doll’s House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Mazer, Cary M. “Hedda Gabler.”

Odour of Chrysanthemums as a Classic

Odour of Chrysanthemums as a Classic

The claim that “Odour of Chrysanthemums” is a well-crafted story is hardly brave or risky, for many would agree. For instance, the man who in a sense discovered Lawrence, English Review editor F. M. Ford, said this about “Odour of Chrysanthemums”:

The very title makes an impact on the mind. You get at once the knowledge that this is not, whatever else it may turn out, either a frivolous or even a gay springtime story. Chrysanthemums are not only flowers of the autumn: they are the autumn itself. . . This man knows what he wants. He sees the scene of his story exactly. He has an authoritative mind. (Ford 257)

As a fiction editor, he is quite receptive to Lawrence’s descriptive gifts. He is impressed with Lawrence’s sense of purpose. But readers needn’t assess the short story by Ford’s methods alone. Modern readers have a very different perspective than Lawrence’s contemporaries, ensuring that many different analyses of “Odour of Chrysanthemums” are possible.

However, the plot itself is very simple. In the 1914 version, Elizabeth Bates spends most of the story waiting for her husband to return from the mine, fretting that he is once again dallying at a favorite pub. His coworkers drag him home, but he is not in a drunken stupor. He is dead, suffocated in an accident at the mine. Initially it seems that the moment when Elizabeth learns that her husband is dead is the story’s climax. However, this is not the story’s most riveting moment, for Lawrence’s foreshadowing has already given this ending away. Elizabeth often unknowingly hints at the coming death, saying, “They’ll bring him when he does come–like a log” (Lawrence 290). The real surprise comes after the reader discove…

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…e sense alone. This idea reflects people’s deepest fears, or perhaps evokes new ones. “Odour of Chrysanthemums” is not successful and shocking because of particularly beautiful writing, realistic characters or even a surprise ending. It is shocking because of a surprise thought.

Works Cited

Lawrence, David Herbert. “Odour of Chrysanthemums.” D. H. Lawrence: The Complete Short Stories (Vol. 2). New York: Penguin Books, 1976.

Bolton, James T. “Odour of Chrysanthemums: An Early Version.” Renaissance and Modern Studies 13 (1969), 12-44.

Ford, Madox Ford. “D. H. Lawrence.” Portraits from Life. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1937.

Lawrence, David Herbert. “Women Are So Cocksure.” Phoenix. London: Heinemann, 1936. 167-69.

Lawrence, David Herbert. “To T. D. D.” 7 July 1914. Selected Letters. Ed. Richard Aldington. New York: Penguin Books, 1996.

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